Stigma and Isolation

Stigma and isolation

A mother writing about her son's death pointed out that we've never been told what to say to someone who has had a suicide in the family What she needed to hear was the same thing that might be said to anyone else who had experienced the death of someone close - "I 'm truly sorry, for your pain, and is there anything I can do? If you need to talk about it I'm a good listener: I've got a good shoulder to cry on. "And she needed to know it was really meant. Everyone, she said, believes no one wants to talk about suicide, that it's best left undiscussed & that if you don't talk about it, it will be forgotten and will go away. For her, nothing could be further from the truth. Although social attitudes to suicide are changing, they may still limit the support that is available to the bereaved. The silence of others may reinforce feelings of stigma, shame and 'being different'. If others are embarrassed, uneasy and evasive about the way in which a loved one died, the bereaved may be left feeling intensely isolated. Opportunities to talk, remember and celebrate all aspects of a loved one's life and personality may be denied. A strong need to protect a loved one, and oneself, from the judgement of others may also be felt following suicide.

 

Needs of those bereaved through suicide

When a group of Irish people bereaved by suicide were consulted about their needs, they felt they needed help and support to: get the suicide in perspective deal with family problems caused by the suicide feel better about themselves talk about the suicide obtain factual information about suicide and its effects have a safe place to express their feelings understand and deal with other people's reactions to suicide get advice on practical/social concerns.