Witnessing or Discovering a Suicide

One of the most difficult aspects of suicide is witnessing or discovering your loved one's suicide.  The sight, sounds and smells are often overpowering both when they happen and for some time afterwards.  The memories are not easily forgotten.  Many people seek professional counseling to help them cope with the nightmares that may result.  With almost 43,000 suicides each year in the United States, witnessing or discovering a suicide is more common then most people know.   
  • When You Witness A Suicide
    • Resource: Blog Post
    • Summary: There are, unfortunately, instances in which a person dies by suicide in a public arena. If you have witnessed the suicide of a stranger in a public place, what should you do? Should you just continue on as you were before and brush the incident off? After all, you never met the person in question and don't even know the person's name.
  • Grief and First on the Scene
    • Resource: Webpage
    • Summary: I have worked with survivors of death by suicide, murder, accident, terrorism and natural causes. I have been privy to their most intimate moments in the homes and/or hospitals when their loved one died. I have witnessed the unbearable pain of a parent grasping an expressionless lifeless child's body. I've seen a family seek comfort in one another as they surrounded a dying loved one in prayer. I have stood by a wife as she lay in bed with her young husband and whispered in his ear that it was OK to leave and she would be fine. I'm only one of countless professionals who work with survivors and are touched by the dead.
  • Survivor Experience: The Features of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    • Resource: Webpage
    • Summary: People who have lost a loved one to suicide are also vulnerable to PTSD, especially if they witnessed the suicide or its aftermath or if the death was described to them in graphic detail by an eyewitness or in a police or coroner's report. People who already struggle with mental health issues are especially vulnerable to PTSD.
  • Navigating PTSD After a Suicide
    • Resource: Blog Post
    • Summary: What do you think about when you hear the term “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?” The first thing I think about is the military. We so often hear about our veterans returning home from war with symptoms of PTSD. We are also all aware that this untreated PTSD often leads to suicide. But, what we do not often think about is PTSD experienced by survivors in the aftermath of a suicide. In fact, I believe that PTSD after a suicide is more prevalent than we think.
  • New Approaches To Helping The Witness To A Suicide:
    • Resource: 7 Page PDF
    • Summary: Sometimes in life things happen suddenly and unexpectedly, and we can become caught up in a series of circumstances beyond our control. These events can have a long lasting emotional impact upon our lives. Such is the case when one is confronted with the suicide death of another person. Being witness to the self-inflicted violence and death of a person can have many ramifications – regardless of whether one has witnessed the suicide of a loved one at home or that of a stranger in a public place.
  • For people who have witnessed a suicide death
    • Resource: Webpage
    • Summary: There is the time-worn adage, "a witness to violence is a victim of violence." Suicide is a form of self-inflicted violence and witnessing a suicide or finding someone after they have died, whether you know the person or not, can be very traumatic. You may have intense feelings and reactions-this is a normal response to an abnormal event.
  • Coping after a traumatic event
    • Resource: Webpage
    • Summary: A sudden illness, an accident or an assault, or a natural disaster - these are all traumatic experieCoping with traumances which can upset and distress us. They arouse powerful and disturbing feelings in us which usually settle in time, without any professional help.
  • Witnessing a Traumatic Event
    • Resource: 1 page PDF
    • Summary: After witnessing a traumatic event, you can expect to experience some strong emotional or physical reactions. In some cases, you might suffer both emotional and physical reactions. 
  • The Haunting Effects Of Witnessing A Suicide
    • Resource: Blog Post
    • Summary: An eyewitness to a suicide recounts how they felt
  • Home Blessing: Love, Hope and a Wish for Peace 
    • Resource: 1 page PDF
    • Summary: An article by a priest who is called by a family to bless the room a loved one died by suicide in.