for better mental health

Bereavement

Provides information on bereavement, where to go for support, and suggestions for helping yourself and others through grief.

This page is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

Losing someone to suicide

Every type of grief has the potential to cause intense and complex feelings, but research shows that people bereaved by suicide can have a particularly complex set of feelings and can experience additional struggles and dilemmas in trying to resolve their grief.

"It took me a good few years to work through my feelings about the death... (but) in coming out of the depression I finally began to truly be myself and stop feeling so isolated and detached."

Feelings you might experience when you lose someone to suicide include intense sadness, shock, anger, frustration, confusion and isolation. Some people also talk about experiencing a sense of shame or guilt, and while this is a very common reaction it is important to remember that people who take their own lives are often trying to stop feelings of distress that can feel as intense and real as physical pain - the reasons for suicide are complex and you are not to blame.

For more information see our pages on suicidal feelings.

Who is affected by a suicide?

Suicide can have a ripple effect, extending well beyond the person's immediate family and friends. How you are affected will depend on your relationship to the person who has died, the strength of the attachment and the circumstances around the death.

While losing someone close to you to suicide can be an extremely painful and emotionally complex experience, you may find that you are also affected if someone you know less well has taken their life.

If you feel affected by a suicide there are organisations that can help. Talking through difficult emotions and talking about the person who died can be helpful in processing the loss.

Losing a parent to suicide

"For someone of my Dad's generation to say that they were depressed would be an admission of weakness."

What help is available?

Many people bereaved by suicide find that they need more specific support than that provided for bereavement in general and can find it particularly valuable to make use of support groups that are especially designed for people bereaved by suicide.

In addition to the support options mentioned on our support and self-care page, you might like to consider the following:

  • Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) are a great source of support for people who have been bereaved by suicide. See the SOBS website for details of their helpline, local support groups and many more practical resources.
  • Cruse Bereavement Care also has some suggestions for further reading and support for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. See Cruse's website for more information on traumatic bereavement and suicide, including support if you live in Wales.

"To the outside world (including family and friends) he was thoughtful, caring and inspirational. Someone with a loving and supportive family, secure job and content life. But inside, he was fighting an invisible battle that not even those closest knew about."

Grief doesn't necessarily stop, but it can change

Grief is completely individual and there is no time limit or tried and tested process for it. People who are bereaved can sometimes feel pressure from those around them to 'move on' but it is important to recognise that grieving takes time and is not a linear process.

Time doesn't necessarily 'take away' the grief, but it can give us space to adapt around it, accept the loss and build new meaning.

"People seem to expect you to move on. I think that patience and support without a deadline is the best thing you can give to someone suffering from bereavement."

This information was published in July 2019. We will revise it in 2022.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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