with Dr. Jason Troyer

Coping with the Suicide of a Family Member

Coping with the Suicide of a Family Member

Written by
Stacey Freedenthal PhD LCSW

This article was written by Stacey Freedenthal, PhD LCSW, and provides resources on dealing with grief after loss by suicide. This article is reprinted with permission from the author. See the original article here.  

For more blog posts and resources, visit Dr. Freedenthal’s website: Speaking of Suicide


Coping with the Suicide of a Loved One

The grief, loss, and bewilderment following the suicide of a loved one can be overwhelming. Many reactions are common, ranging from everything from shock to anger to self blame to considering suicide for yourself. 

There are questions, so many questions. “Why?” “What if…?” “What could I have done?” And there are few, if any answers.

Here are some resources for coping in the aftermath. Some material repeats what I have included on the Resources page for suicide loss survivors, and some goes beyond that.

Coping Immediately After the Suicide

SOS: A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide 

Of all the online guides to coping with the suicide of a loved one, this may be the most comprehensive. Written by a man whose wife died by suicide, the guide includes information on the “emotional rollercoaster” that follows a suicide, myths and facts about suicide, suggestions for coping, narratives from other suicide loss survivors, and inspirational words for surviving, coping, and healing after the loss of a loved one to suicide. (Sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology.)

After a Suicide: A Practical and Personal Guide for Survivors  

This booklet begins with information about the practical logistics immediately following a suicide, including details about a possible autopsy, cleaning of the home if the suicide occurred there, organ donation – and more. The second part of this booklet addresses the emotional aftermath of suicide bereavement, including common reactions to the suicide of a loved one, as well as the process of grieving. 

How to Talk with Children about the Suicide


I address what to say to children in my post, “What to Tell Children of a Loved One’s Suicide?

In addition, the online guide, SOS: A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide (described above), has a section on talking with children about the suicide of a loved one.

A rich and informative blog post, “Speaking to Children about Suicide,” also contains good information. Its author is Nancy Rappaport, M.D., a child psychiatrist whose own mother died by suicide when the author was 4 years old. 

Seeking Support from other Suicide Loss Survivors

Suicide Loss Support Groups

This site, sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology, and this site, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, both provide directories of support groups nationwide for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. Some support groups are led by a mental health professional, while others are led by participants themselves.

Suicide Loss Survivor Outreach Program

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention trains people who have survived a suicide loss to reach out to others newly bereaved by suicide. The volunteers can visit and offer peer support. Click here to request a visit from someone in your area.

Books about Suicide Loss

This list of books on coping after the suicide of a loved one is quite comprehensive. It divides books according to specific affected groups, including children, adolescents, men, and clinicians. It also provides a list of books on suicide. (Provided by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.)

Although a great deal of books helpful to suicide loss survivors are out there, a book that I find particularly good is Touched by Suicide, by Michael Myers and Carla Fine. 

Web Sites with More Resources for Coping and Healing from Suicide Loss

Written by Stacey Freedenthal PhD LCSW. Republished with permission from the author.
Click here to see the original article and visit Dr. Freedenthal’s website.