Impacted By Suicide – days

If you are here because you have been bereaved by suicide, we are sorry for your loss. We know that this is a difficult and overwhelming time. With the help of people who have experienced loss through suicide, we have tried to put together some information about what may be happening in the days, weeks and months ahead. Please do not feel that you need to read everything at once, but hopefully, you can find what you might need to know right now.

Police

The police need to make sure that no-one else was involved in the person’s death. They will have to ask questions to explore how the person who has died was acting in the days and weeks before their death. You may have known that the person had been struggling and unhappy; or their death may have come as a complete shock.

They may ask you to help them confirm the person’s identity, either by seeing them and confirming who has died, or by providing photographs.

Occasionally, the police may need to take personal items away, but these will be returned. You might want to note down the name and contact number of the officer in case you have any questions after they have gone.

Support services

The police or coroner in your area may be able to offer you support, and you may have been asked if you would like someone to contact you and offer you and others support. If you consent to be contacted, you should hear from local support, usually within 72 hours.

If you have not been offered support, you can check here whether your area is one with a specialist support service. Alternatively, you may find some local support through AtaLoss, an external website which signposts to support acorss the UK.  If there are no local services near to you yet, you can contact one of the national organisations who can offer you advice and help.

.

Telling those close to you

One of the first and hardest challenges you are likely to face is letting others know what has happened

It is fine to tell people when you are ready and to say whatever you want about how the person died. Some say that they found it helpful to be honest from the start.

You don’t have to answer any questions from other people if you don’t yet feel able.

Here are some things you might like to say:

…I’ll tell you more when I feel able to.

…It is too soon for us to talk about how they died.

…I don’t want to say any more at the moment.

…It looks like they might have taken their own life.

You may find it helpful to signpost someone who is supporting you to the resource Finding the Words, which is a booklet full of helpful information which may help them to support you.

Talking to children about what has happened

Talking to children about how the person died will depend on the child’s age or level of understanding.

A natural response is to want to protect them from knowing what has happened, and to think up an alternative explanation for the death. However, it is better for children to hear the truth from people who love them than from someone in the playground or on social media. Talking about what has happened is a chance to answer any questions (within the limits of their age and level of understanding) and to check that they have understood what has been said. It is also a chance to reassure them they were not to blame.

We have put together some further information surrounding talking to children here.

Winston’s Wish supports children who have been bereaved by suicide, and have detailed information on their website on talking to children when someone dies by suicide.

You may also find Child Bereavement UK helpful. They help children and young people (up to 25 years old), parents, and families, to rebuild their lives when a child grieves or when a child dies. Their helpline number is 0800 02 8840.

How you might be feeling.

Everybody’s experience of suicide is different, and the way you may be feeling could be different from those around you. This is completely normal; we have tried to include some of the emotions felt by others here, but it doesn’t mean any feeling is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

I need help now