Handbook for Mortals : Dying suddenly : Suicide

Death from suicide often hurts terribly because the person who has died has so completely rejected his or her family and friends. If the suicide comes after serious physical or mental illness, though, you may feel both grief and a sense of relief that a long period of suffering has ended. You may feel really angry toward the person who has died, particularly if she either gave no warning at all or had actually engaged a lot of your time and energy trying to help. Guilt is common; you wonder if there was something more someone could have done.

If the suicide is unexpected, you may wonder if you and others missed a signal or a silent plea for help. You may spend a great deal of time trying to understand what life must have been like, no longer wanting to live. Why didnít he love me enough to stay? Why wasn't my love enough for her to want to stay? You may feel ashamed, feeling that this reflects shortcomings in you and your family. Some people will hide the actual cause of death from others who may not understand or might judge harshly.

Families that have been affected by suicide should usually avail themselves of help from a mental health professional in the ensuing year. Family members benefit from a nonjudgmental but insightful outsider who can help sort out the conflicts and watch for signs that the survivors might be developing serious problems in coping.

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Handbook for Mortals book cover Copyright © 1999, 2006 by Joanne Lynn. This extract from the Handbook for Mortals by Joanne Lynn, M.D. and Joan Harrold, M.D. is used with permission. To learn more about improving care at the end of life visit the main web site for Americans for Better Care of the Dying.
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