What can you do to find help - or to help others - after a suicide? This kind of tragedy is isolating. It may seem that there is no help, especially in your local community. It may feel like you don’t have anything to give. At the same time, you may want to do something. At some point, you may want to “give back.”
Many survivors think of helping others as a way to make meaning of loss, especially as they reach certain points in their own healing. Such actions can be a way to honor their loved ones or an attempt to keep others from feeling as lost and alone as they did.
Thinking about your own talents and interests is a good starting point. Write these down. What is your passion? What hobbies did you pursue or want to pursue before suicide came into your life? Does your career offer opportunities to share information about suicide prevention, intervention or aftercare? Is there something new you would like to explore?
Examine your strengths and weaknesses. For example, do you like to work behind the scenes or take an active role in projects and/or community events? Can you combine some of these traits and put them to use for fundraising, community awareness or support efforts? How can you extend one or more of your ideas into activities that increase your own healing and help others at the same time?
Not sure where to start or what is already available? Find out, beginning with a simple Internet search. For those who need help, resources can make a difference. That difference can change your life. Life can be better. For those who have lost loved ones, information brings knowledge. Knowledge brings understanding. And understanding brings peace.
Here are a few of my favorite resources:
1) Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors – The Alliance of Hope has served a global population since 2008. Founded by a survivor who is also a clinician, the Alliance's Web site articles, blog, and community forum offer a wealth of information and support. www.allianceofhope.org
2) SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – United States government resources include free publications and programs in English and Spanish as well as material on bullying, working within the community, and other topics. http://www.samhsa.gov/suicide-prevention
3) SPAN-GA - Georgia - Suicide Prevention Action Network – Activities include prevention, intervention, and aftercare as well as working for legislative action. Contact for information about suicide prevention programs in Georgia high schools. http://www.span-ga.org/ (Suicide Prevention Resource Center – Find a list of resources for your state. http://www.sprc.org/states/)
4) The Link Resource and National Counseling Center – In Sandy Springs, Georgia, this nonprofit provides suicide loss aftercare support groups for all ages as well as information, counseling, training for first responders, Survivors of Suicide (SOS) facilitator training, and holiday and International Suicide Day Conference workshops and memorial services. www.thelink.org
5) HelpGuide – This vast resource site was founded by suicide loss survivors and is connected with Harvard University. www.helpguide.org
6) NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness – NAMI offers free support groups and information for families struggling with mental illness. Find a local chapter online. www.nami.org
7) Coping with Traumatic Stress (United States Department of Veterans Affairs) – Help for veterans of military service and their families. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp
These focus on helping children and teens:
8) National Alliance for Grieving Children – https://childrengrieve.org/
10) Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide – http://www.sptsusa.org/
“Over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year and there are many more who attempt suicide. Hence, many millions of people are affected or experience suicide bereavement every year. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally in 2012.” - World Health Organization, 2015
We are not alone.
Jan McDaniel, a writer from the southeastern United States, lost her husband to suicide in 2007. As a blog columnist and community forum moderator for the Alliance of Hope for suicide loss survivors, she writes about survival, connection, and hope. www.LightThatBringsHope.com