Bereavement by suicide – let’s stand together

In the UK in 2016 there we 6,188 reported suicides and that’s 6,188 more deaths than there should have been.  And with many towns in the UK not collecting suicide data unfortunately we expect this number will be much higher.  Suicide is the biggest killer in the UK- the second biggest killer of our young people- the largest cause of death to our men. And these shocking statistics are exactly why this is something we need to face together.

This is an alarming common problem we as society simply cannot ignore. With one in four of us also struggling with our mental health we can’t turn a blind eye. If 1 in 4 doesn’t seem ‘too’ substantial consider the wider impact on friends and family? That 1 in 4 is telling us that most of society will now be affected by this in some way. And with the 6,188 deaths to suicide, many of us will be affected directly or indirectly by a death that could have been completely avoided.

Grief after suicide isn’t like any kind of grief; it might have things in common. Huge loss and longing. Funerals. Crippling grief. But it also brings with it complexities that only traumatic loss ever brings. That’s not to say bereavement of any kind is easier or harder, just different and it is vital to acknowledge those differences.

With suicide, the person chose to die. They didn’t die because their bodies gave out, or because of a tragic accident. They chose to depart. And usually those left in their world struggle to understand how this loved human being, chose death over their life with us.

Whether the next day they would have still made that choice is left to be seen.

Whether if they’d had support in that moment, it would have been different, we will never know.

What they needed in order to stay, we cannot put right.

Suicide leaves unanswered questions and that is one of the hardest parts of bereavement by suicide. The only person that could answer those questions is gone.

The one thing that’s so consistent about suicide is that it as an avoidable tragedy that is hard to ever reconcile. It destroys lives. It is different for every single person that faces it, and people often struggle to share their thoughts about suicide – which is why I believe we should start now. Start today. Start talking.

It’s the simple and open conversations that save lives. Speaking openly about mental health with those around you makes it a topic that’s easier to bring up if someone is struggling. They know you won’t judge them, you will simply listen, heart open, full of understanding and compassion.  Too many people right now who are struggling with their mental health are made to feel isolated, worthless and ashamed. Together as a society we need to break down those stigmas, we need to get talking.

“It was nothing more than a cup of tea and a chat at the right time that saved my life”.

We need to stand together in a time which can feel lonely and disconnected and in doing so we will be making a difference to so many lives. If you’re a friend of someone struggling, the most valuable support you can provide is just being there to listen.

The Tomorrow Project is a primary care pathway and is able to support people that are having thoughts of suicide or those bereaved through suicide.  We provide emotional support – this can be a cup of tea (or coffee!) and a sit down to speak about how you are feeling and we offer practical support, this can be support with things such as housing and debt.

At the heart of our service is a real sense of hope that things can get better. Our job is to help you through difficulties you’re having, even if it’s just to give you somewhere safe to come and have a coffee and a chat with our team.

If you, or any one you know may need support – please us an email at crisis@tomorrowproject.org.uk or call us on 0115 880 0282. Please note, we ask that you leave a message and a support officer will get in touch with you within 1 working day.

Together we can make a difference. Together we can save lives.

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