Surviving Suicide

Feature

March 12, 2020

Surviving Suicide

Content warning: Suicide

Sadly, suicide is a consistent tragedy thousands of Americans succumb to every year. In 2018, almost 50,000 Americans died by suicide (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - https://afsp.org/). Thankfully, many schools, places of worship, and workplaces are diligently placing preventative measures and promoting proper mental health care in their communities.

For those who have lost a loved one to such a tragedy, the path forward may seem unclear. We sat down with licensed psychotherapist, Ellen Zucrow, to learn more about the challenges and subsequent treatment of survivors of suicide.

“When you are a survivor of suicide, you may experience a lot of mixed emotions in your grief. Besides feeling sad, people often feel confused, guilty, and even sometimes angry.” Ellen told us that suicides can be an unexpected shock to loved ones.

“Often times, the person who died seemed perfectly content to everyone around them. So, loved ones try to find answers to why they would go to such lengths or they feel horribly guilty that they were unaware of their loved one’s emotional pain.”
Ultimately, and frustratingly, it’s impossible to find all of the answers to why someone would end their life. Sometimes survivors feel overcome with guilt because the last conversation they had with the deceased was a fight or argument, or maybe they just didn’t reach out to the person.

“It’s important to know that suicide is a very personal decision, and it is never someone’s fault,” Ellen stressed. The choice to end one’s life is far more complex than an argument or a missed phone call.

Ellen has noticed that survivors often feel lonely in their grief, because they do not know how to talk about their grief. “It can feel very uncomfortable to go to a grief group where every member lost their loved one to natural circumstances or physical tragedies like a car wreck. Some feel ashamed to discuss that their family member made a choice to pass away.”

Ellen encourages survivors of suicide to seek individual therapy and specialized support groups to process their emotions and thoughts.

If you or someone you know is grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide, please reach out to our clinical services intake line to be scheduled with a therapist or referred to a support group. You can call at 770.677.9474 or email us at therapy@jfcsatl.org