On average, there are more than 100 suicides a day in the United States, tempted by people with and without known mental disorders.

Survivors of the loss – close family and friends left behind after a suicide – number six to 32 for each death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which means that in 2016 alone, 1.44 million people have involuntarily belonged to this group.

They are forced to deal with the loss of a loved one and face an uncertain future, often taking care of confused children while they struggle to accept, they may never know "Why".

Suicide can affect a wider community of individuals, including members of the church or the school of a person. One study estimates that about 425 people are exposed to each suicide in this manner.

After the death of a loved one, those who remain have an increased risk of suicide. According to a 2015 report from the Alliance Action for Suicide Prevention:

  • The loss of any first-degree suicidal parent increased the likelihood of the bereaved person committing suicide about three times.
  • Young people seem to be particularly vulnerable after a peer's suicide, which can lead to a phenomenon sometimes called bunches of suicides or contagion.
  • Men who have a spouse who died of suicide are 46 times more likely to die by suicide. Women have an increase of 16 times.

Kim Ruocco, whose husband of the Marine Corps Major, John Ruocco, committed suicide in 2005, said she had never seriously considered committing suicide, but she often wondered how she would come out every day.

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"After his death, I can not say that I was suicidal, but I remember feeling so badly that I thought," I really do not want to wake up, "Ruocco said. "Because you do not know how to live your life with this kind of grief."

"My whole world has been upset"

When Ruocco's husband died, she said, she lost the sense of reality.

"All my people were upset," she said. "What I thought I knew to be true may not have been true … It made me question everything in my life, from my spirituality to my instinct and decision-making. , my marriage, my family relationships. "

She learned that grief was not linear. Some days have been terrible. Some were OK, even good. She had to learn, she said, to embrace all of this.

"It's not a feeling, it's a whole lot of feelings, and I think the advice to anyone in grief is that whatever you do, everything is fine, that's normal, and it's okay. come, "she said. "I let him come, I look at him, I feel him, I express him, then I try to let him go."

Stories of hope:

When Debbie Baird lost her 29-year-old son Matthew to suicide in 2009, she did not think she would ever let go of her grief.

Debbie Baird stated that she did not think she could recover from the grief caused by the suicide of her son Matthew. (Photo: Debbie Baird)

"If you had told me at first that I would feel better, I would never have believed you," she said.

She went to see, found a support group, and wrote for years what Lifeline recommends for suicide prevention as a way to deal with things you could not say before your loved one died. Slowly, said Baird, she began to heal. She could see it in the pages.

"I did not stop thinking that if I could write to him, maybe he would answer me, maybe he'd tell me why it's I felt I needed to find a way to communicate with him, "she says. "It was going to want to know why, and what a feeling of pain and sadness I was feeling and how my heart was shattered and all my physical pain that I was going through and my depression and how I felt so," Hey, Jen will have another baby. "I could see my life changing."

Baird is now a community educator and support specialist for survivors of the National Alliance Against Mental Illness.

the The American Psychological Association said that after a suicide, it is important that the survivors:

  • Accept your emotions.
  • Do not worry about what you "should" feel or do. There is no standard calendar for mourning and no good way out.
  • Take care of yourself. Do your best to get enough sleep and eat healthy, regular meals. Taking care of your physique can improve your mood and give you the strength to cope.
  • Use support systems.
  • Speak to someone. There is often stigma around suicide and many lost survivors suffer in silence. Talking about your feelings can help.
  • Join a group.
  • Talk to a professional.

Debbie Baird says the newspapers have helped her cope with the death of her son. (Photo: Debbie Baird)

How to help

The bereaved can heal, experts in suicide prevention said, but their pain is often underestimated. The stigma attached to suicide creates an additional burden. Loss survivors typically experience a range of emotions, including shock, fear, shame and anger. While they are struggling to cope with these feelings, many must simultaneously face the pressure of keeping the secret of their loved one's suicide or the mistaken belief that they have acted in such a way as to cause the death of the victim.

Thomas Joiner, who lost his father to suicide and became a prominent researcher in the field of suicide, wrote in his book "Why people die of suicide" that some people's inability to understand suicide intellectually prevented them from showing sympathy after his father's death.

"For some people … understanding did not matter and did not prevent them from acting with a real generosity of spirit," he writes. "For others, the lack of understanding seemed to be an insurmountable barrier, so that the compassion instincts were short-circuited."

According to American Association of Suicidology and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, individuals can help survivors who have lost their lives by:

  • Listen without judgment
  • Use the name of the lost loved one to show that this person is not forgotten
  • Accept the feelings of the survivor, including shock, shame and abandonment
  • Avoid phrases such as "I know how you feel" unless you are also a survivor.
  • Avoid telling them how they should act or feel
  • Be sensitive during holidays and birthdays

"People need education to understand that it's okay to talk about their loved one," Baird said. "It's good to mention their name.It's nice to say:" I'm sorry. "

Survivors should be encouraged to get help. Mourning counselors, religious leaders, social workers and doctors can be trained in how to respond to suicide.

Ruocco became Vice President of Suicide Prevention and Suicide Prevention in the Victims' Tragedy Program (TAPS) after the death of her husband. "Postvention" describes efforts to prevent survivor suicide and help them heal. Ruocco said that postvention not only reduces risk, it can also help survivors find a new goal.

"They can really have post-traumatic growth and make sense of this type of loss," Ruocco said.

It is impossible for the survivors to recover their condition before the death of their loved one. Ruocco said that she missed her husband every day, but she managed to build a life that, although not what she imagined, is full of joy.

"You look at the world in a different way," she said. "Not only did I have a sense in my life because of his death, but I cherished the world in another way.My relationship with my children was more intense, more helpful.I was more present and more connected to the outside world, whether it's nature or other people. I've found joy in the little things and enjoyed little things and moments with people that I may not have discovered before my husband died, and I was able to honor his life lived by telling the story to other people and preventing suicide. in honor of him. "

Suicide Lifeline: If you or someone around you is struggling with suicidal ideation, you can call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to 800-273-TALK (8255) at any time of day or night or chat online.

If you are distressed by the death of a loved one who has served, you can contact the Victims of Tragedy Program (TAPS) at 800-959-8277.

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