If you have been affected by suicide

If you are a carer and have been affected by suicide, it’s OK to ask for help.

Dealing with the loss of someone is never easy, it can be particularly difficult if this death has been due to suicide. You may not have had any idea the person you cared for was feeling so painful that death seemed the only answer.  You may have tried to listen to them and reassure them that these feelings will pass, and you may have tried to get help for the person. Despite all help the person may have still taken their own life  and this can cause all sorts of emotional turmoil for carers, families and friends.

Suicide is a complex issue and usually has various factors behind it, but the only person who really knows why death is preferable to living is the person with those thoughts. When they are no longer alive you can be left with a lot of unanswered questions and a wide range of contrasting emotions.

It is OK to ask for help

This help can be in the form of speaking with your GP, carer support service, friends, family or helpline.  It is also OK to have different emotions including anger, betrayal, relief, guilt, self- blame, shame or stigma around the act of suicide or the presence of mental illness, difficulty in accepting that the cause was suicide. These are some of the feelings that carers have told their local carer service about:

  • "I was so angry with him for leaving me, for not thinking about me and the kids. I hated him for a long time and couldn’t grieve.”
  • “I just wanted to know why? I had no idea he was in such emotional pain, just wished I had asked more.”
  • “Our daughter had everything to live for, at least that’s what we thought, we just didn’t see the signs and we blamed each other for a long time, almost cost us our marriage.”

Suicide is just like other bereavements, but the above feelings and thoughts can make it harder to deal with and/or to grieve. Give yourself time to come to terms with what has happened. Talk to someone about how you are feeling, maybe, when you feel ready, speak to other people who have been bereaved by suicide. Peer support can really help as you can meet or listen to people who understand what it is like.

Another reason suicide can be difficult in the immediate aftermath is that the police and coroner service may become involved. This may be due to the nature of the suicide and legal requirements surrounding a sudden death. This can be hard for carers and families with lots of questions and time delays in arranging burial/cremation.  

If the suicide has taken place while the person was undergoing psychiatric care in hospital or community, then there may be an inquiry into how it happened and events surrounding suicide. Again, this can be devastating for carers and families. This is why it is important to ask for help and support. See your nearest carer service for further support and information. Again speaking with other carers who have experienced this can be a real help and comfort.

Getting support

  • Breathing Space is a confidential phoneline for anyone in Scotland feeling low, anxious or depressed. Tel: 0800 83 85 87.   
  • Samaritans, is a UK wide organisation if you need someone to talk to.  Whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. Tel: 116 123.
  • Childline is a private and confidential service  for anyone under 19 in the UK where you can talk about anything. Tel: 0800 1111.
  • The Silver Line is a confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, anywhere in the UK. Tel: 0800 4 70 80 90
  • Cruse Bereavement Care offers support for people across the UK after the death of someone close. Tel: 0845 600 2227
  • Find a Carers Trust carer service for local support.

Thanks to Karen Martin, our Mental Health Development Coordinator, for writing this page.

Date revised: 16/08/2019