| Peter Cook

A suicide attempt in the family - what to do 2

Introduction

In our last blog, we started to address the sensitive issue of a suicide attempt in an immediate family circle. We gave some tips on how to talk to a child about it. But what about you?

A suicide attempt is traumatic.

You might be experiencing a powerful array of emotions: anger, guilt, powerlessness, anxiety, or betrayal. All this normal. It might help to remember that your loved one was in severe emotional distress when he/she attempted suicide.

This blog aims to help with a few points to think about.

'I should have known.'

Risk factors for suicide

The literature on the Internet or in books is full of 'helpful' pointers on how to 'see the signs' and 'act before it is too late.'

Yes, depression, the loss of a job, or an upsetting love rejection are all possible suicide triggers. But, thousands of people experience these things and don’t try to kill themselves.

You are not responsible for the actions of someone else. Suicidal people are usually very good at keeping their feelings and their emotional well-being hidden.

Don’t you think if you suspected that something was amiss, you would have done something?

Be glad that you’ve got your loved one still with you and don’t blame yourself.

What should I do?

• Don’t shy away from your loved one. The time is now to start communicating. Say what you feel. How about: 'I am so sorry that you felt that way. I wish I could have helped. Please, can't we talk about what I can do to help you now?

• A session with a therapist before your loved one leaves hospital would be a good idea. A good therapist will first meet with the patient and then invite family to partake, too.

A neutral setting out of your home might help to get those first feelings and emotions out of the way. Follow-up sessions might be scheduled according to your family’s needs.

• Be prepared to deal with your feelings and reactions. Reach out to friends and family or perhaps have a few sessions with a therapist yourself. Take care of yourself first.

Don’ts

• Don't blame or make harsh statements.
'What on earth were you thinking?' is not the best way to start a positive conversation with a suicide survivor. For us' healthy’ people, it can be challenging to understand a struggling someone’s emotional state. For now, your loved one needs your love.

• Don't ignore the suicide attempt and keep it a shameful secret. The best way to healing and a fresh start is to confront the elephant in the room.

Talk about it with each other, with the patient and in therapy. Tell your friends and family.

The more people that know about it, the better. It can keep the patient grounded and accountable. 'I've done this, but look at the incredible support I am receiving. I will get better.'

• Don't hover. Yes, the person tried to take his/her own life. But it is a sad fact that if he wants to try again, he will find a way, no matter what you do.

It is far better to love the person, to be a sounding board, and not to judge. If you try to control every minute of every day, you'll only make yourself sick.

• Don't think it can never happen again. Some people are prone to repeated suicide attempts.

Luckily, every day, doctors are learning more about depression and suicidal behavior. What works for one person might not work for another. Be hopeful and keep on seeking help. A different regiment of treatments could be the answer.

Conclusion

Love. Jesus said that we must love one another. At Largest Heart, we believe that this love can make a difference.

It’s hard, we know. You almost lost someone whom you love very much. You wish you can carry their burden for them. Unfortunately, you can’t. But healing is possible.

Please contact us if you need more support or information. In the end, you can only take it one day at a time. But you don’t need to do it alone.


Resource

https://www.sprc.org/sites/default/files/resource-program/After_an_attempt_emotional_impact_of_a_suicide_attempt_on_families.pdf

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