Resources for People Impacted by a Suicide Attempt and Suicide Loss

After attempting to take his own life, JD Schramm committed himself to putting his life back together physically, emotionally and spiritually. But he quickly found there were very few resources available for somebody in his position.

“This truly is an at-risk population,” Schramm said in his Ted Talk about surviving a suicide attempt. “Because of our taboos around suicide, we’re not sure what to say and so quite often we say nothing.”

And saying nothing can further isolate people who have attempted suicide.

“If you are someone who has contemplated or attempted suicide or you know somebody who has, talk about it,” he counseled.

Surviving a Suicide Attempt

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s webpage on preventing suicide, approximately 1.4 million American adults attempted suicide in 2017.

Survivors of an attempt are treated like patients who survive a medical emergency. They should not expect an immediate recovery and are encouraged to follow the instructions they receive upon discharge from a hospital, explains the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) on its “After an Attempt” webpage.

The AFSP highlights steps to aid the recovery process:

  • Have self-compassion and patience with the recovery process.
  • Focus on improving your physical health.
  • Talk to a mental health professional, support group or trusted friend.
  • Create a safety plan (PDF, 58 KB) to avoid triggers and identify coping strategies.

Family and friends may also experience trauma related to the incident, resulting in emotions such as anger, sadness, fear and anxiety. The AFSP encourages loved ones to acknowledge their feelings and seek support to process their emotions. Being present and supportive of the recovery process for the person who made the attempt can help them feel less isolated. But loved ones should also recognize that recovery will take time.

It’s important to recognize the many warning signs and risk factors for suicide, including a previous suicide attempt. If you are having a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Resources for Survivors of a Suicide Attempt

If you have been affected by a suicide attempt or know someone who has, consider reaching out to the following organizations or using these resources:

Organizations and Resources

Toolkits and Brochures

Podcasts and Videos

Recommendations for People Affected by a Suicide

Unfortunately, many who make an attempt will die by suicide. The CDC also reported that suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States in 2017.

In the weeks and months after the event, survivors of a suicide—in this case, friends and family—may experience a host of different emotions related to grief, including denial, anger, guilt, despair and abandonment.

As a way of navigating those waves of emotion, the American Association of Suicidology and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s webpage for loss survivors provide recommendations for survivors of suicide, including:

  • Prepare for grief to hit at different times.
  • Recognize that you don’t have to discuss the event.
  • Write out answers to the inevitable questions that may arise from others.
  • Maintain your physical health and practice self-care.
  • Listen to the stories of others who may have been in a similar situation.
  • Ask for help from a counselor, family members and friends.
  • Take the recovery process at your own pace.

For those who want to help someone whose loved one has died by suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Jed Foundation’s webpage on how to help a suicide survivor suggest:

  • Acknowledge the event, offer your support and make yourself available when they are ready for your help.
  • Check in on the survivor during important dates like anniversaries and birthdays.
  • Don’t shy from saying the name of the deceased. This can help make it easier for survivors to talk about them.
  • Avoid saying you understand how a person is feeling.
  • Encourage the survivor to talk to a professional and a support group. Have lists of contact information for them.

Resources for Survivors of Suicide

If you have survived a suicide or know someone who has, consider reaching out to the following organizations or using the following resources:

Organizations

Toolkits and Brochures

Books

Podcasts

This article is for informational purposes. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or mental health crisis, please reach out to a mental health professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.