People keeping away. When friends and others did not contact us after our loss, we felt hurt and let down. We understood they were uncomfortable or not sure what to say, but we needed to know others would be there for us and some were not.
Other people’s reactions can sometimes be unhelpful, especially if they make judgements or give their opinions or advice. It does not help to hear comparisons, or be told that others are hurting or are worse off.
‘Move on’, ‘You’ll get over it’, ‘It’s God’s will’ and other such comments stop us expressing the pain we feel. We are not ‘breaking down’ or ‘falling apart’. Being upset is healthy, but others can find it uncomfortable, not knowing what to say or do.
When others are distressed by our tears it does not help us grieve. Tell them you need to cry. It’s healthy!
Numbing our pain by using alcohol or drugs delays our grieving. For many of us, this only creates other problems later. Grief is a natural and healthy response to loss and even though it hurts, it will ease if we allow ourselves to experience it.
If our loss is complicated by other traumas or experiences we’ve had (such as abuse or other losses) we can seek professional help to heal our grief.
Refusing to talk about the person we’ve lost or mention their name is not helpful. We needed to acknowledge what had happened, not deny it. While Aboriginal people do not use the name of the person who has died as a mark of respect, they can talk about the person without using their name.
Not having information about what’s happened meant we were left asking questions and left wondering and worrying. This stopped us moving on.
Endlessly searching for answers to why the death occurred. Information can help us understand and accept our loss but we may never find all the answers we would like. Some of us find this difficult to accept, while others of us find a way to feel at peace about the mystery. Speaking to people who have also lost someone to suicide in a support group helps us understand just how common it is to never get all our questions answered. Learning about the causes of suicide and some of the issues behind it helps some of us to find some of the possible answers. Rarely do we find them all.
Ambulance/Fire/Police – Phone: 000 for life threatening emergencies.
In an emergency you can also visit your local hospital emergency department.
Crisis support – 24 hours, 7 days a week
Suicide Call Back Service – Phone: 1300 659 467. A free nationwide telephone support service staffed by qualified people. Expert counsellors call you, at a time that suits you, and provide support through up to six 50 minute counselling sessions.
Lifeline: – Phone: 13 11 14
Crisis Care Helpline – Phone: (08) 9223 1111 or Country Toll Free: 1800 199 008
beyondblue – Phone: 1300 224 636. All calls and chats are one-on-one with a trained mental health professional, and completely confidential.
Samaritans Crisis Line – Phone: (08) 9381 5555, Youth Line 9388 2500 or Country Toll Free 1800 198 313
Men’s Line Australia – Phone: 1300 78 99 78 for men of all ages
QLife – Phone: 1800 184 527 for counselling services for people of diverse sex, genders and sexualities of all ages.
Veterans and Veterans’ Families Counselling Service – Phone: 1800 011 046
Support from people who understand suicide:
Coronial Counselling Service – Phone: (08) 9425 2900 or after hours: 0419 904 476.
ARBOR: Active Response Bereavement Outreach – Phone: (08) 9263 2150 (9am to 4:30pm, Mon -Fri) or email email@example.com. Provides recently bereaved (three months to one year), long-term bereaved, Men’s support, and Aboriginal Yarning support groups. All services are free, non-discriminatory, and confidential.
Compassionate Friends: – Phone: (08) 9486 8711 for support specifically for bereavement following the loss of a child.
Salvation Army Hope for Life suicide prevention and bereavement support. Counselling line: 1300 467 354.
Australia and New Zealand Parents of Suicide – Online support group specifically targeted towards bereaved parents, as well as family and friends.
For Young People:
Kids Helpline – Phone: 1800 551 800 for young people 5 -25 years
headspace – Phone: 1800 650 890
Reachout– online youth mental health service
Youthbeyondblue – Phone: 1300 224 636
Find out more about supporting young people bereaved by suicide
The Red Cross: Helping Children and Young People Cope
Coroner’s Court of WA – Phone: (08) 9425 2900 or 1800 671 994
The Public Trustee – Phone: 1300 746 212
Department of Human Services (Centrelink) – Phone: 1300 131 060
Australian Funeral Directors’ Association
Funeral Assistance Line – Phone: 1800 854 925
Books, films and social media
A word of warning: There are many stories about death or suicide and its impacts that can be helpful. When we are grieving these can affect us deeply.
We were sensitive to what we read and watched in order to look after ourselves at this time. We were more cautious about what our children watched on TV through this time of grieving. Even the news can add to our distress when grief is raw.
Later, we found others’ stories comforting. They made us aware of how suicide touches everyone.
‘Nothing Prepared Me For This’
Written by Australians who have experienced the loss of a loved one to suicide.
‘Behind The Smile: A Hidden Battle Against Depression’
WA author Joshua Cunniffe’s recovery from depression and the loss of his grandfather.