One of the reasons suicide is so tragic is that it is a stark reminder of just how connected we all are to one another. The void left when someone dies by suicide is unlike anything else. The impact ripples through a community in immeasurable ways.
Suicide loss is tragic, but there is hope for survivors of suicide loss. When depression sets in for you or a loved one, here are some truths and action steps to keep in mind.
Every suicide loss survivor hurts.
Pain is a difficult part of life, but you are not alone. Others have been there before, some are there with you now, and many will come behind you. There is strength in solidarity and comfort in community. Let others who understand your loss share in your suffering.
Every suicide loss survivor needs help.
Do not allow yourself to sink to greater levels of despair and desperation before summoning the courage to reach out for help. There is no shame in owning that you cannot bear the pain and struggle alone.
We are not meant to walk through life alone and we are certainly not meant to walk through painful times alone.
When you are experiencing times of pain or despair, reach out. Call a loved one, a pastor, or a counselor. There are things that can be done to ease the pain and bring joy back to your life. Treatment is available and it does work. Even sharing your story with another can begin to ease the burden. Don’t allow shame or stigma to silence your cries for help.
Be a steward of your pain following a suicide loss.
Pain is a gift. Yes, you read that correctly. Pain is an incredible teacher. Pain points us to areas in our lives that need our attention. Pain protects us from the things that harm us. Pain inspires growth by pointing out where change and maturity are necessary. And when you have been through a painful time and come out on the other side, it is a gift to share the experience with others.
Know that pain following suicide loss can eventually be overcome.
This is difficult for many chronic sufferers to believe. However, every sunrise holds the hope of a better day, potentially a good day. Choosing hope is a powerful thing. Hope opens us up to the possibility that life can be better. Without hope, pain is sure to be permanent. So if you are hurting, hold on to hope or find someone who can hold it for you.
Let others know that pain can be overcome. Allow your pain to make you compassionate instead of jaded, sensitive instead of stubborn, victorious instead of a victim, and patient instead of prideful.
If you or someone you know has ever contemplated suicide – or have in the past – and would like immediate help, please call Pine Rest’s 24/7 hotline at 800.678.5500 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.TALK (8255).
If you are NOT in immediate danger but would like to schedule a new outpatient appointment with a Pine Rest clinician, call 866.852.4001.
Karen Cleveland, PhD has been with Pine Rest since 2007 and currently provides outpatient therapy and psychological testing services at the Pella Clinic. She completed her undergraduate work at Central College and received a MA in Theology and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.