Dr. David Miers (http://www.bryanhealth.com/) share the misconceptions suicide survivors run into on a routine basis. These misconceptions stigmatize survivors to the extent they will choose to stay quiet and withdraw. This is especially true with regards to being asked, “Why?” as to why their loved one completed suicide.
Another question that can make the situation even worse is, “Why aren’t you over it yet?”
What is needed is the understanding grief is a process and journey requiring support and listening rather than statements such as, “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps.”
In terms of providing support what is better is doing the work of providing space for the survivor to process and remember what is good about the deceased individual. Communication is key. This is one of the key activities the LOSSTeam (www.lossteam.com) provides. The LOSSTeam supports the family and social structure heal and stay intact.
A large component of this is understanding and helping overcome the fear survivors feel. Support individuals can simply ask open-ended, neutral questions such as, “Tell me about your loved one,” and not comment.
How LOSSTeams work and can be called upon is explained. There is no counseling or therapeutic activity. There is just listening and pointing towards resources that can help.
Families who don’t contact LOSSTeams or similar support resources can take up to five years to reach out and ask for support. Those who had contact with the LOSSTeam reached out to resources within 39 days.
Postvention (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postvention) is defined: reaching out for support after the loved one completed suicide.
Local county health boards can be contacted to find support.
For the LOSSTeam to be effective the survivor support network needs to be in place.
Dr. Miers shares how common it is for those who are suicide survivors to have thoughts of suicide themselves, being 9 times more at risk than the general population. Thus, the importance of reaching out for support after a loved one has completed suicide.
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