Dealing with suicide of a loved one

Image Source: https://justsayyes.org/topics/teen-suicide/

The death of someone close to you is a very hard thing to deal with in one’s life, especially when it’s in the form of suicide. The mental struggles and battles that come after it are one of the hardest experiences someone can go through, and it can take years for someone to finally be able to feel normal again. People dealing with the sudden death of a friend or family member are 65% more likely to attempt suicide if the deceased died by suicide than if they died by natural causes (UCL News, 2018). This shows just how hard it is to cope with the death of a loved one taking their own life. I’m going to share my personal experience and advice regarding dealing with such a tragic matter.

Last year during my junior year of college my good friend and roommate took his own life. It was extremely sudden, he left nothing, and we were unaware of the mental struggles that he was dealing with. Males have a harder time expressing their emotions and mental health issues, which is why I think he decided to not seek help from any of his close friends and family. Being a guy myself, I can understand the fear of being seen as “feminine” or “weak” by other guys when trying to express your emotions. Which I think is a terrible ideology and a deeply rooted problem within masculinity that needs to be addressed and publicized more often.

The utter shock and sadness that comes forth after the death is something that I hope to never go through again and wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but that is just the beginning of a long mental battle and journey. If you are going to remember one thing I’ve said, remember that you can’t go through it alone, and don’t be afraid to express how you feel. That is the most important aspect of getting through the death of a loved one, and if you don’t have anyone, please seek help.

It’s also important to remember that it is not your fault. It was their decision to end their life. It took me and my roommate’s a long time to realize this after countless weeks of thinking what we could have done differently.

Following the sudden shock went away came the lack of motivation to do any daily tasks and to pretty much live life as I normally did prior. I never went to class, didn’t take care of my hygiene, and spent most of my time trying to come to the realization of what happened.

After going through it I can strongly say that this is not the healthy way to do it. Although it may be hard and take time, you have to do the activities you love and spend time with the people you love. Transitioning back to your everyday life is one of the most challenging aspects, but is the quickest way to make everything feel normal again. Being with friends and family to get your mind off it is one of the best coping mechanisms too, and once again don’t be afraid to express your emotions! My coping mechanism I used the most was working out, which was harder than I could have imagined. The first couple times I would pull into the parking lot, break down, and go back home. Eventually though, I was able to build the courage to work out and it was a great way to destress and cope.

Therapy is also a much-needed coping mechanism. This is a great way to express all your pent up feelings and emotions. The lack of closure is another stressful aspect, which is something a therapist is great at helping with. Talking to an outside source and gaining insight from them is one of the best ways and I believe a necessary way to cope.

During my mental battle I was always wondering “when would it end”, and after beating the struggle I can confidently say that it takes a lot of time. After going through it I consider it to be a journey that I never wanted to happen in a million years, but coming out in the end has made me mentally stronger than I ever could have imagined. Don’t go through it alone, have hope, do what you love, and you will get through it. As my roommate used to say, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please seek help.

Image Source: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

References:

Ucl. (2018, November 15). 1 in 10 suicide attempt risk among friends and relatives of people who die by suicide. UCL News. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2016/jan/1-10-suicide-attempt-risk-among-friends-and-relatives-people-who-die-suicide#:~:text=People%20bereaved%20by%20the%20sudden,by%20the%20Medical%20Research%20Council.

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