If you’ve been affected by suicide

Support and advice for anyone in the Dudley Borough who has been bereaved or affected by suicide.

Bereaved by suicide

Guidance for those who have lost someone to suicide

Deaths by suicide are often more sudden and unexpected than other types of death, causing friends and family to experience different emotions whilst grieving. You may feel angry, guilty or ashamed, especially if you feel like you could have done more to support the person.

These are all natural feelings if you have been bereaved by suicide, but you are not alone. We are here to support you through your grief.

Coping with your grief

The emotions experienced after bereavement by suicide can differ considerably from other types of death, leaving those closest to that person feeling shocked, unstable and struggling to cope.

Everyone deals with their grief differently, because everyone’s different. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. You may be feeling guilty, angry or even ashamed. These feelings are a part of grieving, natural to dealing with the loss of a loved one, but are heightened with bereavement by suicide as we often think we could have done more to support that person.

If you feel like the world is crumbling around you, the following activities can help you to cope:

Talk about your feelings

By talking through your emotions with a family member or friend that you trust, you’re opening the door to support, love and care, with a light at the end of what might seem like a very dark tunnel.

Do things that you like

Finding happiness may seem impossible but engaging in activities that you used to enjoy can help ease your stress, and may also introduce you to others who are on a similar journey to you.

Take care of yourself

Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and practising good personal hygiene can help you feel better about yourself.

Enjoy the outdoors

Connecting with nature or doing exercise can help clear your head and keep you in touch with the world around you.

Reaching out and admitting “I’m not OK” is hard, and you may feel vulnerable or anxious. If you don’t want to reach out to somebody that you know, there is still help available to you. Visit our support section below to find organisations who can help.

You can do something positive

Dealing with your bereavement may feel complicated and overwhelming. Your journey is your own, with emotions and feelings that are personal to you. But you’re not alone. Every year deaths by suicide leaves thousands of families and friends searching for answers.

You can provide unique emotional support to ease their suffering.

Organisations like Samaritans and PAPYRUS welcome support from those who are willing to share their personal experiences of suicide to help and inspire others.

Support for those who've been bereaved
SOBS

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide is a self-help organisation providing help and support for those bereaved by suicide.


Help is at hand

This is a network of organisations that support people who have been bereaved or affected by suicide.


Cruse

Cruse offers support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies.


Helping others

How you can make a positive difference in your community

Volunteers are at the heart of suicide prevention. Often, those affected by suicide need somebody to talk to - somebody they feel comfortable reaching out to for help and advice.

By giving your time to help those in need of support, love and care, you can make a big difference in your community. Be sure to build your own support networks too, so that you can be supported along this journey.

If you want to help those affected by suicide, there are many ways that you can provide this support.

Suicide prevention

The stigma attached to suicide prevents thousands of people each year from reaching out for help and support. You can change this.

Providing support for a person who is experiencing suicidal thoughts can be very challenging, so you should always seek help if you feel out of your depth. On the other hand, it can be very rewarding. Helping somebody through difficult times is a worthwhile accomplishment.

Being open-minded, able to listen and patient is all you need to start helping others.

Bereavement by suicide

Around 6,500 people die by suicide each year across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, leaving those closest to that person in need of care, guidance and support. Research also suggests that those who have lost a loved one to suicide are then more likely to experience suicidal thoughts.

Supporting somebody who has been bereaved by suicide is a complex situation. You may not know where to start, or if you can help that person at all.

Listening to their thoughts and trying to understand what they’re going through can make a big difference to their journey – no one should suffer alone.

It's not all talk

Suicide prevention groups often have volunteers in various roles, not just supporting through phone calls. Marketing, Fundraising, Administration and even IT support are all required to help these organisations support those in need.

Similarly, the volunteering opportunities available aren't always for providing support. For many reasons, people sometimes just need someone to talk to and share their feelings with.

Visit the resources below to discover volunteering opportunities in the Dudley Borough.

Discover volunteering opportunities
Volopps

Discover volunteering opportunities across the Dudley Borough and beyond.


Citizen's Advice Dudley Borough

Volunteer with Citizen's Advice Dudley Borough and help provide independent, confidential and impartial advice on big issues affecting people’s lives.


Dudley Mind

Part of the Mind family, Dudley Mind are a local mental health charity that aims to improve and promote recovery and wellbeing for people in the Dudley Borough.


Providing support

How you can give help to those who need it

Often, the best advice for someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts is to talk about how they’re feeling. Some people may choose to talk to a friend or a family member, but this approach isn’t always possible.

Some people may not feel comfortable with the lack of anonymity, whereas some people may not have somebody close to turn to. This is why suicide support organisations play such a crucial role in preventing suicide.Suicide prevention organisations like PAPYRUS, Samaritans and CALM offer many ways for people to get in touch and talk about how they feel, such as face-to-face conversations, informative content on their websites and confidential helplines.

We spoke to Rachel, an adviser who works at PAPYRUSHopelineUK, to give you a better idea of the role and what kind of person you have to be to provide support.

Who can provide support?

“Our role isn’t one of being the expert, it just depends on your outlook. We offer training to help people learn about how to discuss suicide sensitively as well as reduce the stigma surrounding suicide. In just a few hours you can learn how you can make a difference in your community. This proves that you don’t need to be an expert to provide this type of support. For those interested in a more long-term role, lots of support organisations will also provide training, such as the Applied Suicide Intervention Training Skills (ASIST) program.

In this job it’s all about having the right attitude and a will to help.”

How can we have better conversations about suicide?

“Talking to people about their suicidal thoughts provides a lot of challenges. No two conversations are the same. To provide the best support you possibly can you will need to understand how suicide can affect someone and be aware of how to talk about this topic sensitively with someone who needs support.”

Be patient

“I would say that the most important trait for providing support is patience. When you’re talking to someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, they may find it difficult to put their feelings into words, or they may start repeating their thoughts and going around in circles, trying to work out why they feel the way they do. The best thing you can do for them is to remain patient with them and let them work their thoughts out.”

  • Give them space to breathe
  • Allow them to finish their thoughts
  • Be calm and encouraging

Move at their pace

“Often, those who are affected just want somebody to talk to and to listen to them. I’ve always found it best to let them to drive the conversation. Giving them the reins allows them to take some control back and open up, empowering them to help themselves:”

  • Don’t take the lead
  • Be ‘in the moment'
  • Give thoughtful responses

Don't be judgmental

“The most important thing that I've learnt about suicidal thoughts is that they can affect anyone and strike at any time. Sometimes it’s a gradual process, sometimes it can flare up because of a traumatic event. It’s unique for every person and therefore very personal. You should approach this topic with care and without judgement.”

  • Be open-minded and understanding
  • Bring empathy to the conversation

Why do you do it?

"For me, providing suicide support means that I’m an active force in changing how we talk and think about suicide. Working for PAPYRUS HelplineUK allows me to play a part in removing the stigma and allowing people to be more comfortable and have more productive conversations.

The majority of people who I take calls from don’t actually want to carry out their thoughts and work hard to keep themselves safe. They just want to talk to somebody who wants to listen.”

How can I get involved?

One of the ways that you can get involved is by joining a suicide support helpline like PAPYRUS HopelineUK, a speciality telephone service staffed by trained professionals who give non-judgmental support to those who need it. Their team is trained to ensure that those affected stay safe from suicide and provide practical steps for moving forward.

If this doesn’t suit you, there are many different ways that you can make a positive difference in your community that don't involve suicide support. Organisations like the Citizen's Advice Dudley Borough help provide independent advice on issues ranging from financial difficulties to substance misuse.

Visit the resources below to discover how you can make a positive difference in the community.

Discover volunteering opportunities
Volopps

Discover volunteering opportunities across the Dudley Borough.


Citizen's Advice Dudley Borough

Volunteer with Citizen's Advice Dudley Borough and help provide independent, confidential and impartial advice on big issues affecting people’s lives.


Mind

Part of the Mind family, Dudley Mind are a local mental health charity that aims to improve and promote recovery and wellbeing for people in the Dudley Borough.


Overcoming bereavement by suicide

How to live positively after losing a loved one to suicide

Losing a loved one to suicide can cause complex and distressing emotions. Intense feelings of loss and grief may be compounded by difficult and sometimes unanswerable questions like ‘Why did they do this?’, ‘Why didn’t I notice?’ or ‘What if?’

Those who are left behind, usually those who were closest to the person, may search for answers to these questions for the rest of their life. This adds pressure onto a grieving person, making it difficult for them to rebuild their life.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve a bereavement, but we want you to know that you can still find happiness and positivity, no matter how dark your world might seem.

We spoke to somebody from the Dudley Borough who agreed to share their bereavement with us, in the hope that their experiences might help someone in need.

Bereaved by suicide

In September 2015, I received a message from my husband telling me that he loved me. When I arrived home later that day, I found him dead. For me, his death really was that sudden and unexpected.

My husband did not have a history of mental illness, so I was confused and at a loss as to why he would have taken his life. Why were there no signs or warnings? How could I not have known?  

These questions consumed me, making even the simplest tasks seem impossible. I couldn’t even look past my next breath to plan my days. I was completely detached and numbed by my loss.

Managing grief

At his funeral, I watched as his loved ones and relatives cried and prayed, unmoved by their emotions. I did not want to be numb, detached or emotionless. I wanted to start functioning and living my life again. I felt like I owed this to myself.

As the months and years passed, I accepted that the cause of his death was suicide, as it was the only real explanation. However, I still had many unanswered questions. Living was a struggle.

As well as my own struggles, I had to deal with the blame from others. This upset me.

People placed the responsibility for his death on my shoulders, believing that my lack of awareness in his wellbeing meant I was unable to prevent it. Deep down I knew that this was their way of grieving, so I didn’t retaliate or blame them for how they felt.

All I wanted was peace for everyone who was struggling with their grief. Most of all for me. I knew that I wouldn’t get my old life back, the life I built with my husband.

Asking for help

I wanted to rebuild my life and rediscover who I was and in order to regain some control, I sought professional help. I attended counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) sessions for three months which helped me communicate my thoughts and regain my grip on reality.

Before long, it was my birthday. On a day when I should be celebrating, be thankful or at least be enjoying myself, I was filled with loss, despair and felt very much alone. I decided to do some research into suicide. I did this when my husband passed, but because I didn’t believe that he was capable of suicide, I guess the information didn’t really stick.

But having accepted suicide as the cause of his death, I started to understand.

What I have learnt about suicide

I visited websites, read articles and attended seminars. I did everything I could to better understand what drove my husband to take his own life.  What I discovered is that everyone’s reasons for thinking or acting upon suicide is unique. No one attempts or dies by suicide because they want to die. Suicide is a desperate act to escape from the intolerable pain, mental anguish or mental torture. This is when suicide becomes a viable option. The mind of a suicidal person is constricted in its ability to see options and mistakenly only sees two options; continue to suffer or die.

Suicide remains the leading cause of death in men below the age of 45, with men five times more likely to take their own life than women. Suicide is also more common than people realise, for example in Dudley approximately one person dies by suicide every fortnight.

Some questions can’t be answered

Bereavement by suicide leaves loved ones with lots of extreme and complex emotions and questions. For years I questioned how I was unable to stop him, or to recognise his struggles. But the reality is, I couldn’t have known. I couldn’t have known because he didn’t want me to know. No amount of thinking and overthinking was going to change the outcome. The sooner I came to peace with this, the sooner I was able to regain control of my life and continue to live positively.

Don’t blame

I do not believe that those who want to die by suicide want to die. I do not believe they are selfish, cowards or guilty of a sin. I believe that situations or scenarios can affect people completely differently and so we should not blame or demonise people who take an action that is often a last resort. In order to continue living positively, I needed to be at peace with my bereavement, and I do not believe that could have been achieved by blaming or shaming.

Get help if you need it

My bereavement crippled me, consuming every thought and action. I became numb, detached and disinterested. I decided that I couldn’t go on for the rest of my life feeling this way and I sought professional help. I would advise anybody who is going through a struggle and can’t find a way out to seek help via your GP or speak to a trusted person. There are also many support organisations out there with great advice for anyone struggling with their bereavement such as Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide and Loss to Suicide.

Your life goes on

In my experience, the pain doesn’t go away. As difficult as it is, you learn how to work through your pain, rebuild your life around it, and continue to try and live positively. It is not easy. Over the last few years, I have spent a great deal of my time fundraising for those affected by suicide, raising awareness on the prevention of suicide and trying to change the public perception of it.

In our attempt to remove the stigma and improve the way we talk and think about suicide, my amazing family friends and I began fundraising for two suicide prevention charities, PAPYRUS and Maytree. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worthwhile. Everyone’s journey with bereavement is different and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Helping raise awareness on the prevention of suicide was a part of my bereavement journey and a way of remembering my husband.

Raising awareness on the prevention of suicide is a huge aspect of reducing suicide rates, however attention also needs to be given to:

  1. The support available to those who are at the risk of suicide and anyone who is worried about a person who is at the risk of suicide; how accessible is that support, the quality of that support and the ongoing support.
  2. Support for those bereaved by suicide - the death of a loved one is never easy to experience, whether it comes without warning or after a long struggle with illness. The grief experienced by those who are bereaved by suicide is often described as ‘complicated grief’ and those left behind face an increased risk of suicide themselves. Added to the burden is the substantial stigma, which can keep those left behind away from the much-needed support.
  3. Building resilience in children from a young age as this enables children to develop mechanisms and the ability to adapt well in adversity, trauma, tragedy and threats and/or significant source of stress.

Below is a list of useful resources where you can obtain help if you are at the risk of suicide or are worried about someone who is at the risk of suicide.

Support for those who've been bereaved
SOBS

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide is a self-help organisation providing help and support for those bereaved by suicide.

PAPYRUS

PAPYRUS is the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide.


CALM

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is an award-winning charity dedicated to preventing male suicide.


Samaritans

Through 201 branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland and a free phone line counselling service, Samaritans provide support for anyone who needs it.

Mind

Mind discuss how we should approach conversations about suicide with people that we're worried about.