Suicide bereavement can be an incredibly difficult experience, but is not something you have to go through alone. Talking grief and loss with family and friends will give you practical and emotional help, but sometimes it may be necessary to get some extra support from a health professional.
Talking Grief: How do I know when I need help after a bereavement?
Everyone deals with a suicide in different ways. Whether you need to seek extra support, and at what point during the grieving process you do so, will depend on a number of things.
In general, you may benefit from some structured or professional support if:
- Your grief interferes significantly with your everyday life, including your work/school or relationships
- You feel that your grief is significantly affecting your physical or mental health
- You don’t have a good support network of family or friends to turn to for talking grief or loss, or you don’t feel you’re getting the support you need from them.
Sometimes, people who have lost a loved one to suicide feel suicidal themselves. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is vital that you seek help immediately. Phone the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 to speak to a professional counsellor who can help you deal with these difficult emotions and help keep you safe. If you are concerned about your immediate safety, phone 000 and ask for an ambulance.
Talking Grief: Professional support options after a suicide bereavement
No matter where you are in your grief journey, setting aside time to talk to a professional or get some external support can be very valuable in helping you deal with the emotional aspects of suicide bereavement. Listed below are a range of support options you may find helpful. You may need to be persistent when finding the service or professional that is most suited to your individual circumstances and needs.
Face-to-face counselling can be an invaluable source of support. Professional counsellors can help you move through the grieving process and work with you towards coming to terms with your loss, assist you in dealing with painful emotions, and put into place coping strategies to help you manage your grief. Counselling can be useful at any stage of the grieving process, from immediately after the death, to much later on when support from family or friends may be less available.
Counselling services are generally accessible through self-referral. If you think you may benefit from face-to-face counselling, you can find a local service:
- through your GP, who may be able to refer you on or direct you to an appropriate service in your area
- by using the search facilities available on websites of national peak bodies, such as
- through counselling and support services available at the Coroners Court in your state or territory. See our Legal considerations after a suicide page for further information
- through Employee Assistance Programs available in some workplaces.
Telephone counselling can also be helpful for people bereaved by suicide, as it offers a level of confidentiality and anonymity that can be appealing.
Telephone counselling may also be particularly useful if you are socially or geographically isolated, or find it difficult to access face-to-face services in your area. You may find it reassuring to know that a professional counsellor is just a phone call away. You can call the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 to speak to a professional counsellor who can help you deal with these difficult emotions and help keep you safe.
Other telephone counselling services, that are specifically designed for people bereaved by suicide can be found on our Useful links and support page.
Many people find that attending a support group specifically for people bereaved by suicide is a valuable source of comfort.
These groups are a way for you to communicate with, and gain support from other people who understand the experience of a suicide loss. Meeting with others who are in similar situations can be a way for you to speak honestly about your feelings in an environment that is safe, supportive and non-judgemental.
Support After Suicide is a useful resource containing lists of organisations and support groups around Australia offering help to people bereaved by suicide.
Online resources for suicide bereavement
Accessing support online may be an attractive option, as it offers a degree of anonymity and confidentiality.
The Suicide Call Back Service offers an online chat service for people bereaved by suicide.