How to Find a Suicide Grief Counselor

Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group - Madison, NJ

Often the loss of a loved one to suicide is an overwhelming emotional experience. It is common for many survivors to seek professional treatment from a physician or other licensed clinical professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. Here are some ways to help to find a professional that is right for you.

How and Where to Find Professional Grief Counseling

This page is dedicated to helping you understand what the various options are and how you might begin to find someone that works for you. Finding someone who will help you is very personal and specific to your individual needs. A general marriage counselor may not be the right person for you. It really does take some effort on your part to interview them in advance, or at your first meeting to understand if they have dealt with suicide loss before or if they have any specialized bereavement training. It is not uncommon for people to go through 2-3 counselors before they find someone that they feel comfortable with. You will know within the first few minutes if this is the right person for you or not, trust your gut. Please don't be turned off if the first 1-2 people you speak with are the wrong people, think of it like a test drive. You need to find the counselor that fits your needs best. There is help out there for you!

What type of in-person grief counseling is available?

Specialized Suicide Grief Counseling

There are certain counselors who have unique training to help people deal with the trauma associated with the grief that comes from the suicide loss of someone close to you. There are several lists of counselors that might help you to start your search for counseling. We can not specifically recommend someone for you, you need to find the right person for your needs. Everyone grieves differently.

    • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) trained counselors have taken specialized suicide loss bereavement training through the AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). These counselors have taken training to help them better understand what is unique and the complexities of losing someone to suicide.
    • EMDR trained counselors who are trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing) which is a technique used for trauma patients to help cope with difficult memories. EMDR trained professionals specialize in helping victims of trauma to help cope with the memories and the impact that it has had in their life. Some suicide loss survivors report that this is a good technique to help stop the recurring visions and nightmares of the death scene.
    • Complicated Grief trained counselors who are trained in Complicated Grief. Complicated Grief is a form of long term grief that up to 20% of suicide loss survivors get stuck in. Complicated grief counselors generally work with people that are several months to several years out from their loss. They utilize an intensive multi week program to help improve the lives of suicide loss survivors who feel like their life has gotten stuck after a long period of time and need help to heal.

Where can I find grief counseling near me?

There is Immediate Help Available

There are numerous crisis lines that you can reach out to speak with someone immediately. Most calls to suicide crisis hotlines are not from people who are suicidal, most of their calls are people who are struggling with an emotional issue that is overwhelming them.

It can be hard to find a friend to talk to at 2AM after you wake up from a nightmare and need a soothing voice to talk to. The trauma of witnessing or discovering someone after a suicide death is an overwhelming emotional challenge for most people. The various hotlines are there for you to call 24 hours a day and seven days a week. They are trained and are awaiting your call.

  • If you can't reach your existing counselor, or you don't have one, or you are in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is there to help! The hotline connects you live to talk by voice with a trained crisis volunteer. First, you’ll hear a message telling you that you’ve reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They will play you a little hold music while they connect you. A skilled, trained crisis worker who works at the Lifeline network crisis center closest to you will answer the phone. This person will listen to you, understand how your problem is affecting you, provide support, and share any resources that may be helpful.
  • If you prefer to not talk with some one on the phone, they have also have a confidential online chat service that you can type and talk online with a trained volunteer. Click Here for the Lifeline Chat service
  • If you don't feel comfortable talking in person, you can always use the Crisis Text Line. TEXT “HELLO” TO 741741 to begin to text chat with someone using your cellphone. The first two responses are automated. They tell you that you're being connected with a Crisis Counselor, and invite you to share a bit more. The Crisis Counselor is a trained volunteer, not a professional. They can provide support, but not medical advice. It usually takes less than five minutes to connect you with a Crisis Counselor. (It may take longer during high-traffic times). When you’ve reached a Crisis Counselor, they’ll introduce themselves, reflect on what you’ve said, and invite you to share at your own pace.
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a program called HEALING CONVERSATIONS which was formerly known as the Survivor Outreach Program. This program gives those who have lost someone to suicide the opportunity to talk with experienced volunteers. These AFSP volunteers, who are themselves survivors of suicide loss, offer understanding and guidance in the weeks and months following a suicide death. Available in person, on the phone or by video chat, volunteers are familiar with the isolation that so often accompanies a death of this kind, and are able to show suicide loss survivors a way forward into a world of support, by creating an opportunity for the newly bereaved to speak openly with, and ask questions of, someone who has been there, too, and truly gets it.
  • Many faith leaders are trained to deal with tragic loss. You can reach out to a local church or house of worship to speak with one of their religious leaders. They generally do not care if you are an active participant at their services, they are available to chat with you in your time of need.