After a suicide

Losing someone is never easy. And the death of someone by suicide can be especially difficult.

Practical information and guidance

After a Suicide is a website that offers practical information and guidance if you have lost a loved one to suicide: a friend, a member of your family or whānau, a colleague at work or someone else you were close to.

The site covers topics like:

Dealing with grief

How you might feel

Grief is different for everyone. You may feel:

  • shock and disbelief
  • sadness
  • anger
  • blaming
  • guilt
  • helplessness
  • yearning for the person who has gone and their place in your life
  • like you can’t control your emotions and responses
  • like avoiding people or places that remind you of the person you’ve lost
  • like you need to keep busy to avoid thinking about things
  • like turning to things like alcohol, drugs or gambling
  • unwell – grief can cause physical symptoms like headaches
  • depressed.

All these feelings are normal.

If you’re very depressed

You may think a lot about death and suicide, find it hard to concentrate or make decisions, or feel that you don’t enjoy anything anymore.

You can talk to a counsellor, social worker, youth worker, or your GP or nurse.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately.

How to cope

People cope with grief in different ways. You’re allowed to feel angry, hurt or sad.

These ideas may help you cope.

  • Talk to someone about how you are feeling. This could be a trusted friend, whānau, a counsellor or someone else you feel comfortable with.
  • Get enough sleep, eat well and exercise. Relax.
  • Try to avoid alcohol or drug use.
  • Record your feelings. Write about them or draw.
  • Write a letter saying goodbye to the person you have lost.
  • Do things you enjoy, like listening to music, seeing a movie, playing sport or spending time outdoors.
  • If you’re taking prescription medicine to help you sleep, or for anxiety or depression, have regular check-ups with your GP so they know how you’re doing.

Take things one day at a time

You’ll have good days and bad days. Days like anniversaries and birthdays can be especially hard. It helps to plan ahead so they’re easier to manage.

There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief is a process. You move through it in your own way and time.

Where to find help

The first days or weeks

Victim Support offer support for family, whānau and friends bereaved by suicide. Trained volunteers visit families to provide information and help.

All sudden unexpected deaths are referred to the Coroner. Read their brochure When someone dies suddenly: A guide to Coronial Services in New Zealand - justice.govt.nz (PDF, 968 KB) to find out what to expect.

Support groups

The Skylight website has a list of support groups. Some groups are run by professional counsellors. Other groups are run by people who have also lost someone to suicide.

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