South Dakota State News

Survivors of Suicide Squad Day

About the author: Caitlin Reimnitz is a program specialist supporting suicide prevention and crisis services for the South Dakota Division of the Office of Prevention and Crisis Services for Behavioral Health.

In the United States, approximately 44,000 people die by suicide each year. Suicide affects not only the individual, but also the health and well-being of others. Every loss leaves family, friends and communities grieving and struggling to understand and cope.

On November 19, 2022, on International Suicide Survivors Day, friends and families of those who have died by suicide can come together to find connection, understanding and hope through shared experiences.

Losing a loved one to death by suicide can be unimaginable and the pain that comes with it can be devastating. It can be easy to fall victim to your grief at this vulnerable time. The emotions one experiences can be overwhelming and overwhelming. Some people may even feel guilty and wonder how they didn’t see the signs, and if they did, what they could have done to prevent it.

It is important for survivors to adopt some healthy coping habits as they deal with their grief. For example:

  • You keep in touch. Use the support around you, such as family members, friends, or spirit guides, who can help bring you comfort, understanding, and healing. Make sure they are people you feel have your best interest at heart and will take the time to listen and talk to you during this time of mourning.
  • Grieve in your own way. There is no “right way” to grieve and no time limit to “get over it.” Do what’s right for you, whatever that is, and listen to your needs. Do not hurry. Grief is complicated and you may experience periods of regression. Losing a loved one to suicide is devastating. Give yourself grace during this period.
  • Be prepared for painful reminders. Anniversaries, holidays, and other special occasions can be painful reminders of what once was, whether it’s through tradition or something else. Pay attention to how you feel during these times and consider changing traditions if necessary to ease the pain. It’s okay to have hard days. Healing is like a roller coaster; it doesn’t happen in a straight line.
  • Consider a support group or professional help. Sharing your story/grief with others can help you find a sense of purpose and strength. You are not alone. Partner/Professional support is there, know when to reach out.

You may never understand why your loved one decided to take their own life, and you may feel guilt, extreme sadness, and anger for continuing to live day to day. The intensity of these feelings will decrease. The first step in healing is to understand that suicide is not anyone’s fault and the grief that follows is complicated. By taking care of yourself and learning different coping strategies, you can better manage your pain and work to honor your loved one’s memory.

Those who have lost a loved one to suicide are truly survivors because they deal with their loss every day the best way they know how. November 19th is a day to recognize the strength and resilience that survivors of suicide possess. Together we can be the change.

Resources are available. The Healing After Suicide Loss in Your Life Guide is a resource available to those who have lost a loved one to suicide. In addition, the Help Center has a resource pack of grief recovery-specific materials for survivors that can be mailed or distributed upon request. Visit https://sdsuicideprevention.org/survivor-services/.

To find survivor support groups in South Dakota, visit sdsuicideprevention.org.

To read previous editions of the Mental Health Memorandum, visit https://dss.sd.gov/keyresources/news.aspx#mhmemo .

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