“If Only”: Self-Blame After a Loved One’s Suicide

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Suicide survivor“I should have _________.”

“If only I _____________.”

“Why didn’t I ____________?”

Different people may fill in the blanks with different words, but the sentiments are the same: I am to blame. I should have been able to stop my loved one from dying.

Feelings of self-blame affect many people who have lost a loved one to suicide. Such feelings are raw, painful, even toxic. They infect the open wound of suicide loss, adding hurt to hurt.

It does not have to be so. You can talk back to your self-blaming thoughts. Even if you regret words spoken or unspoken, actions taken or not taken, or other mistakes that you think you made, you can replace condemnation with compassion.

 

Hindsight Is…

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, you may feel that your self-blame is justified. Perhaps you believe adamantly that you did or said too little. Perhaps you believe adamantly that you did or said too much.

Whatever you believe, two important words may apply: “hindsight bias.” Hindsight bias is the clinical term for that familiar adage, “Hindsight is 20/20.” More technically, according to two trauma researchers:

“Hindsight bias occurs when an individual possesses knowledge about the outcome of an event and falsely believes he or she was capable of predicting (and, by implication, affecting) its outcome.”

If you knew then what you know now, then yes, you almost certainly would have said something different, done something different, shown something different, felt something different – and so on.

Sadly, you did not know.

 

The Illusion of Control

The tricky thing about self-blame is that, even though it hurts intensely, it also protects us from a greater pain. In blaming ourselves, we nurture the illusion that we have some control over life.

Consider this. If we caused the suicide in some way, then we can learn from our mistakes and act differently. This means that we can prevent suicide from happening again to someone else we love. Or so it seems.

In reality, tragedies all too often occur beyond our control. It is more devastating to realize how random events are – and how random they will continue to be – than it is to believe that we failed.

 

The Reality of Control

This is not to say that nobody has any control over a suicidal person’s safety or situation. There are things people can do to help someone who is suicidal:

Ask questions. Listen deeply. Involve others. Wrap the person in love, understanding, and support. Be available to them. Check in. Stay with them. Remove firearms and other instruments of death from their home. Provide resources to the person or take them somewhere for professional help. Pray, if that is in your belief system.

But even if you did not do all of those things, even if you did not do any of those things, it does not mean that the person’s suicide is your fault.

Even when people do all of those things, still the person may die by suicide. We are limited in what we can know and what we can do to stop suicide from occurring.

Suicide is a formidable foe. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, suicide wins.

 

Placing the Blame Where It Belongs

When someone dies by suicide, it is never one person’s fault. Not yours, not someone else’s, and not the suicide victim’s.

Instead, the fault belongs to the natural forces that create the potential for suicide.

Most often, these forces are mental illness. By many accounts, 90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness. Other forces besides mental illness also can cause suicide: trauma, stress, loss, and any other event or condition that creates excruciating pain.

The forces of suicide cause irrational thoughts. They rob the person of the ability to see any possibility for change. They connive to make the person believe that suicide is the only way to end the pain.

Usually it is not just one problem, but instead a multitude of problems, that lead to suicide. There are no simple explanations.

 

Mistakes Made

Maybe you are reading these words thinking, “She doesn’t get it. I really did fail. It is my fault that ________ died.”

Maybe, painfully, you are even thinking, “I failed, and I hate myself for it.”

Maybe you did know your loved one was struggling.

Maybe you discounted the enormity of their pain.

Maybe you said things you regret, like, “It’s not that bad,” “You don’t really mean it,” “You just are trying to get attention,” or any one of a million other statements that are regrettable in hindsight.

Maybe you refused to take a phone call, or said words in anger, or gave up on the person.

Maybe you failed to keep the person safe. Maybe you felt too afraid to recognize the possibilities for death. Maybe you believed that your loved one would not ever die by suicide.

 

Mistakes Forgiven

No doubt, such feelings of regret cause searing pain. I do not mean to diminish or discount your pain. It hurts.

At the same time, no matter the ways you believe you failed, I would encourage you to ask yourself the following questions:

Am I telling myself that I could have prevented my loved one’s suicide?

How do I know that, even if I had done things differently, my loved one would still be alive?

How could I have known then what I know now?

Can I feel compassion for myself for having said or done things that I desperately wish I could change?

Can I forgive myself for being imperfect?

Self-Blame and Grief

Feelings of self-blame can distract you from grieving and, in the process, from healing. Think of self-blame as an itchy blanket thrown over your grief. When you focus on the blanket, you do not see or feel the naked grief that lies beneath.

Remember, condemning yourself can build some illusion of control. What lies beneath your self-blame are the terrible facts that you cannot control:

Suicidal forces overtook your loved one.

You have suffered an unfathomable loss.

You cannot turn back time, do it over, do it differently.

Each of these is a loss. Mourning these losses is the essence of grief.

Your grief deserves your compassion.

***

© Copyright 2014 Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW, All Rights Reserved. Written for www.speakingofsuicide.com

Photos purchased from Fotolia.com

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  1. Angela says:

    Your words make sense, but after 9 months after my partner hung himself I still cant forgive him, what happens if you just feel so guilty you cant stop feeling like that? i have not seen or spoken to anyone because they wouldnt understand. I live in a small village in the UK, everyone was shocked, and still are, my partner lived there all his life. We have a 15 year old son and i cannot understand why he would want to leave his son behind? I never expected he would take his own life, i cannot say Suicide, I hate that word.

    • anita l says:

      angela my partner killed himself in june last year there is not a day goes by that i think it was my fault all signs were there but just thought he was seeking attention he had tried it before years before i met him but he now had everything he wanted but that was not enough why did he want to go leaving a terrible mess with families and friends lots of questions that i will never get answerd

  2. Eran M. says:

    I lost my partner after 13 years together to suicide. I know that I tried to help him and to gave love and support, and yes it’s very hard I miss him so much he was such a good man a great heart. and yes I say that I should have could have etc. I just want him back in my arms.

  3. Lisa H says:

    I am so sorry. I have those dreams as well but then I think is this what he would want from me? Sit around miserable and living in the past? I think our husbands were not in their right minds, hence the term MENTAL ILLNESS. I can’t imagine the man I met and fell in love with, the one that was happy and healthy and with all his faculties would want either of us to dwell in the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve part of life. I had asked my husband to move out before he killed himself, I could not handle his disease and he was making no effort to handle it himself. He refused to acknowledge IT or seek help, IT was manipulative. I say IT because this depression and anxiety is so self absorbing, it takes over every fiber of their being like an infestation. They cannot see anything beyond the now and let’s face it, the now for them looks pretty bad. When my husband died, he was no longer the man I once loved, he was his disease. I grieved over him for months before he died. It became a matter of my self preservation. So whatever it is that you are beating yourself up for, whatever horrific terrible unforgiveable thing it is that you think you did, forget it. FORGIVE IT. Let it go. I want to share this poem with you-
    You let time pass, that’s the cure. You survive the days. You float like a ghost through the weeks. You cry and wallow and lament and scratch your way back up through the months. And then one day you find yourself alone, on a bench in the sun and you close your eyes and lean your head back and realize you are OK.- Cheryl Strayed
    I am not quite yet on the bench but I do feel the sun again. I am strong, but so are you. I am scared but so I just keep walking because anything else is not an option. I walk in memory of him and I chose the HOPE of happiness.

    • Kim says:

      Dear Lisa H.
      Thank you for your insight and your words of courage and hope. I know you are right, that I need to forgive myself, I will work towards that goal and to that bench and enjoy the sun on my face and a life filled with hope and happiness.
      Thank you again for your words.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks so much. You words meant a lot to me

      \

    • Davina G says:

      Wow Lisa H. What a strong and inspirational message you have written.

      I appreciate it.

      I know that strength of yours would have come after a LOT of pain and an ever so difficult hurdle of being able to draw a positive outcome from the most horrifying situation.

      I respect you.

      I’m nowhere near where you are yet but it’s only been a couple of months for me, I’m still riddled with self blame but I’m trying to learn to accept that I made these mistakes without realising that suicide was even a ‘possible’ outcome. Of course if I thought there was even 1% chance of this happening, I would have done everything differently. I also left my partner and set an ultimatum that I wouldn’t come back home until he stopped drinking alcohol, I was so sure it would work, I thought he would stop drinking and that I would move back home into a happier relationship with him… But no, he took his life. It’s shattered by spirit but I know the disease made that decision, my beautiful husband definitely did not. It’s so sad. He was innocent.

      I believe our spirit is eternal, so I find peace in knowing that he is ok and for me, that’s the most important thing. I know he would be so frustrated with me if I tore myself up with guilt so I’m trying to react to this situation in the way I know he would want me to so he can rest peacefully without having to worry about me. I’m lucky to know a lot about life after death through my own experiences which really helps, because I’m certain that we will see each other again.

      Thank you, your message has helped.

  4. Kim says:

    Dear Lisa H.
    I just read your post. I wish I had the strength you have. I lost my husband to suicide 7 years ago and I’m still struggling. Yes, the suffering has eased, however the pain and guilt are still so raw. I know it was my husbands choice to commit suicide, however, I can’t help but feel my actions on the day he died were the “last straw” for him, therefore causing him to shoot himself. I have a hard time being angry at him, I’m just so very sad. Some days it’s difficult to reconcile that this is my life now….a life without him. It’s scary and unsettling. I see a therapist every week, and she has helped me tremendously. I just wish I could live in my dreams where my husband is holding me, because when I wake and reality hits, the pain begins all over again.

    • Nikki B says:

      Hi Kim… I can’t say I’m ok and I probably don’t have words to makes things ok for you. My partner left me by suicide 4 weeks ago… The pain is so unbearable, I know. Something I did that has been the only reason why I’ve coped so far, is I saw a psychic medium. I know it’s not for everyone, but I did my research and found a medium that works with the Police on missing person investigations so he is the real deal, and it might be hard for you to believe, but I connected with my fiance and was able to ask all the questions i needed to. There is no way possible that the medium could know what he told me, it was an undeniable connection with my fiance. It’s not taken my pain away, but it’s helped a lot and I can’t recommend it enough.

  5. Rachall says:

    I need just SOMEONE TO TALK TO..
    AUGUST 11, 2016,
    Not even a whole day after my birthday it was 12:13 pm I got off the phone with my husband and went out side my son and I was going 4 hours one way to get his new car from my parents while his dad stayed home working for our business of flooring my son wouldn’t clean out the old car so we could take it to where it was going to park til we could fix the brake lines or sell it. It had to be moved before we left and came back with the new car. Because we can’t park any cars in the roads after 9 pm until 8am and could only fit 3 cars in our drive way and we had a boat there so one would have to be parked in our yard.
    His dad called I told him I can’t get him to even clean the car. Well his dad called and I went out side to load up everything in my car we was taking on our trip. I was out side at 12:24 I heard a very loud bang. Came in and said jared what was that not to get a reply I walked in the hall way and all I seen was something out of a horror movie and my sons wall with him all over it…
    I’m having a hard time. I just need someone that don’t know us that I can talk to and that horror seen isn’t spread all over our town. I don’t want people to have the last memory of my son like I do…
    Please I’m not going to do anything to hurt my self. I’m just alone right now out side can’t go in the house because I feel like I’m being watched.. just need to keep my mind busy until my husband gets home

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Rachall, I’m so sorry. You’ve been through a terrible trauma. Losing your son to suicide is itself traumatic, but being present when it happened and witnessing the immediate aftermath only added to your horror. I hope you will talk with someone. Are you in the U.S.? If so, please try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255 (TALK). It’s OK that you’re not thinking of suicide yourself; they will still talk to you and help you.

      There also are support groups for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. It sounds like you don’t want to talk to people in your town. If that’s the case, I hope you’ll consider an online support group. The Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors has one at http://forum.allianceofhope.org/. You can use a pseudonym!

      There are other resources listed on this site at http://www.speakingofsuicide.com/resources/#survivors. Please take a look. And please do seek out someone to talk with. Keep in mind that if you talk to a counselor or doctor in your town, they are required to keep what you say confidential.

      Rachall, thank you for writing here. It’s good you’re trying to connect with others. May you continue to do so!

    • Anonymous says:

      You are in my prayers. Please seek out a person to talk to..

    • Misty roussel says:

      Hi gorgeous, my name is Misty. My mother threatened to kill herself from the time I was born (1975) and attempted it millions of times…. I had a very unstable upbringing….. she finally succeeded at the age of 40. I was 21. I handled all of her affairs. Afterwards
      I plodded along through life… married and had 3 children….. when I was 34 my husband shot himself in the head. He left me with 3 young children.
      We are NOT from a low socio-economic background. We are lucky to be financially stable and highly educated…. That really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things but when I read my story out loud….. I feel as though I need to clarify. Not sure why????
      Everyday I blamed myself…… it must be something about me….. something I said or did… it’s all my fault…. why didn’t I stop it…. . I could have saved them both. Etc etc ect
      I just want to let you know that you’re not alone. I have done years of counselling and there is nothing that YOU OR I could have done to prevent the enevitable….. it wasn’t our decision and believe it or not… time DOES heal!
      I laugh, love and LIVE…. these horrific tragedies make us “who we are!”
      Beautiful, resilient, strong and caring human beings….. release the blame!

  6. anonymous says:

    ReThink,
    Your words resonate very true in the situation of my son’s suicide. I hadn’t given up on him but had made the wrong choices on how to help him. And I had let him down – I broke a promise to him. He didn’t give up because he wanted to, he gave up because he saw no other options.
    Thank you for sharing your insight, I only wish I could have read it 22 months ago… because I would have done anything for my son… and listened to the wrong advise against everything my heart was saying…

    • Misty roussel says:

      More people die from suicide than car accidents. There is ABSOLUTELY no blame from those left behind!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Same

  8. Anonymous says:

    Oh Lisa… I’m so, so sorry. That is the question I ask every day. I don’t think there is any answer. I wish I had something to say that was of any help… I just want you to know someone understands. Peace to you.

  9. Angela says:

    It is over 30 years since my Mom`s suicide and my guilt is still there. I believe my Mom committed suicide because she thought we would be better off without her and I am wracked with guilt because she had these thoughts, so as a family we must have given that impression to her. I have tried over the years to rationalize this. We emigrated to another country and we brought our Mom with us as we thought she would not cope on her own if left behind and she, after much deliberation decided to come with us. Unfortunately she did not settle and hated her new way of life and she missed her friends. I understand because it was a complete change and somewhat isolating in the area where we moved to. We were trying to adjust to everything ourselves and we took her with us wherever possible. There is a saying…you should never uproot old trees!! A year after emigrating she committed suicide. I look back now and even though we had good intentions for her – the life that she had been used to had been taken away.

  10. Anonymous says:

    My partner committed suicide just a fortnight ago. Everyone is telling me that it is not my fault. I loved him and he knew it. But before he did it he just told me he loved me and that i will always remember that day. Now. I feel completely lost without him. I do not even know the reason behind his awful action. Pls help me and give me tips how yo cope. I feel exhausted thinking how much he has suffered during his strangling…. I want to know why he. Left me all alone on this earth…..

    Lisa

    • Angela says:

      everyone told me the same, your pain is unbearable I know, it was my partners choice to take his own life, he had planned it, kept everything secret from me, I did not know how unhappy, worried he was, i did not know what he was planning, all you can do is cry and talk to your friends, tell them everything you are feeling, some help and some dont, it is a long painful road we have ahead of us, after 9 months its still so raw. But my biggest help were my friends, true friends will listen to you and try to understand, the least understanding person was my mother, believe it or not. I am so sorry for your loss and I feel your pain, I know what you are going through, please talk to your friends xxx

  11. Julia K says:

    Thank you…my grandma died from suicide last year…she called me the night before telling me she loved me and I was too “busy high school…homework” to get back to her until the next morning, she killed herself then. I could have been less selfish, sent a simple text, and maybe it would have been different..I know it wouldnt have but it just kills me to think that any one simple wrong action I make can effect someones life in such a big way, or maybe not at all. It kills me to think that I really dont have control as to how my actions affect other people…and i really dont ever want to make someone go through that much pain and suffering.. and all alone ):

  12. Rachel says:

    Hi Lee,
    Yes, I think prayer is very good for them…They can hear us too, so talk to him.
    There are many, many Near Death Experiences on youtube, from all kinds of people, all walks of life that I’ve found comfort in watching. It helps to be sure that our loved ones *are* still alive beyond this world.
    Take care, and anytime you’d like to write, please feel free.

  13. Rachel says:

    Lee,
    I’m so sorry for you.
    You had no way of knowing that suicide was even a possibility. That’s the curse we all have here.. we thought it was an ordinary day… like all the ones before. if we had heard the word, we would have known to act. But we didn’t. God bless.

    • lee says:

      Thank you Rachel. I will always pray for him…..thank a ton for replying.god bless you too.

  14. Scott says:

    Elizabeth, i understand everybody feels guilty. But in my case it is my fault. I was the last person she reached out too. She asked me to leave with her on a trip, but we had to leave thst night after my shift. She said she would foit the bill even but we had to leave that night. I said no, even though i was falling in love with her and wanted to say yes and go so bad i cant put it into words. I wad feeling bad because she was an ex of one of my bar regulars who i was becoming pretty good friends wirh, and friends, guy friends anyways aint suppose to do that. As a bartender cant get a bad rep it kills business. Her last words were, he doesn’t want me, but wont let anybody else have me. She thought he found out about us. He didnt, and still doesnt know. She turned her phone off and hung herself. So yes, if i would have just said yes she would still be here. For 9 months everybody who knows what happened says its not my fault, that down the road she would have done it anyway. Whos to say that she wouldnt have been happy on that trip. Whos to say we wouldnt be happy right now. N9bidy ever says that. They just say its not my fault. In my case it directly is because i was worried sbout losing tip money. How fucking stupid.

    • Elizabeth says:

      You truly aren’t at fault. There was more to her than she let you “in” on. Same for me. If I’d have said “yes, husband, let’s work on our marriage”,he may not have taken his life “at that time but LATER, probably. This thought process doesn’t JUST happen, it seems to have been going on long before you or I. In my case, I found out he had been suicidal before. Poor past. Poor health, etc., but my husband did not trust me enough to help him.

      You’re feeling what we as survivors normally feel. At fault.
      Trust me, you’re not.
      Easy for me to say, right? It’s true. My husband may have not had done it that night but what about later? We had an argument and that was it. We have argued before. This time it may have truly been a “separation”— he knew what I discovered hurt me but couples argue, take time outs, etc., why such a drastic decision? Depression or mental illness is real. He chose not to get help but to take it upon himself to take his life. He pulled the trigger. Not me. If he tried that in front of me, I would have intervened in desperation to stop him. You would have done the same! That alone tells me that I’m not to blame. He knew DEEP down I would not have wanted him to die.

      I’m sure you hear that still small voice telling you it’s not your fault. Believe it. I do. At times I feel that way but “feelings” don’t have a brain.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Rethink,

    Your pain is raw. All I can hope for you, all of us, is that healing takes place. 🙏

    We can go on and on about mental instability and point out at the negative, this too is a choice. One I’m” choosin” to opt out of. Much love and blessings your way.

    • Rethink says:

      Healing comes in many forms. While your communication is gentle, it was my hope that you saw opportunities to take a more “hands on” approach, and look at what perspectives could be getting in the way of possible prevention steps. That’s it, not merely pointing out the “negative”.

    • Lee joon says:

      I have same feeling.when I just lost my loved one day before yesterday.He did call me up asking to help him with some money.but than its been years he has been wasting money and all my family knew it that he will always waste on gambling may be or just by roaming here and there..

      We didn’t have enough money for that purpose..but than too whenever he made mistake he knew family would offcourse in the end pay for all his expenses or money he lost.this kept goin on for years and we all whnevr kept helping him and evn used to tell him scold him and explain of not doing so.

      Now few days back he called me and asked me for some amount,I didn’t have that much but I did have little.but I was instructed by my family of not to give him and inform the family if he ask….I did same.I said I don’t have it.but I did tl him that I have money at home.please ask family at home thy will surely help you…..I did call home but my family said that he alwys does same u know….he needed money for our shop as he lost on way for rentals.

      Other morning he took his life he did call me again to confirm whether I spoke about money at home.I sd I dd speak but nobody said anything.he said ok I will see and arrange n call you back.

      Next call I got was from my family with this news which I never wanted to believe because he is a person who would never do such thing.he was a businessman and alwys enjoyed life.

      I just feel so much at fault.if only I would have made my own decision and given him the money.I thought he will arrange from somewhere like he has been doing since years…..I dont know why he did this.and now when he is not there I am not able to forgive myself…..I just keep crying most of time when m home all alone…..I dont know how to end this pain…..I alwys pray tht nw he is departed to a better world and he should alwys be happy….but than I am blaming myself.if only I should have decided to hlp him with whatever I can.

    • Rethink says:

      Elizabeth,
      I had to get on here and say one more thing, as I am likely gone…..
      While your attitude might seem of one that is “taking the high road”, deep down, it is one of neglect. Yes, you can’t control everything, but part of the reason many of us choose to leave is not just that we are giving up on ourselves. WE ARE GIVING UP ON YOU, and people like you. Honestly. Yes, we do make choices, but often those are because we don’t have better (regardless of what you would call better) choices to make.
      Your comment above is what I would call a gentile cop out. The irony is that many on here think the people who are willing to face death are coping out…..maybe they are willing to take a step other’s aren’t. If all you do is see an invitation for you to improve your perspective through lenses that only cause you to label someone, YOU WILL NEVER GET BETTER at stopping these things from happening. You don’t know all of the logistics of my story, and why I might choose this, and often people don’t realize how many times someone has chosen something else.
      If you really don’t want it to happen, I hope you see the irony of the approach above. You opt out of learning from someone on the other side, and as many times as they see that from those claiming to help them…..they finally opt out too.

  16. Scott says:

    Coming up on 9 months. So much has changed but the core issue is still the same with me. And the newer comment, yes no matter what people say i will take this blame to the grave with me. I found a support group and went for awhile it did help they are speaking my language. But it will never “heal” it. Been pretty reckless the past few months, lots of partying, fun the first few weeks but getting kinda bad now. As a bartender, Facebook and social media was a big tool, i quit bartending, deleted Facebook and Twitter. I just want to be isolated again. Hoping for a fresh start in another state.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Anonymous,

    Did you physically, take a life? No. The other person made a choice all on their own. When people want to do something, they will. Just like this person is placing blame on those who are still here trying to “understand” this pain, this tragedy that has happened to the majority. Even I, once attempted twice as I was a kid, not having even developed “reasoning”— God helped me through and I’m choosing life. Having lost a husband to suicide, I now see. I see the heartache ot leaves behind. It’s nobody’s fault, not even the suicidal. The mind, health, circumstances with past and deeper rooted things can truly solidify the “act” but the thought has already manifested into the want, for time and time again. It’s painful. It’s seeing both aides of the coin and knowing nobody wins. Nobody loses. It’s just an unfortunate, tragic decision that nobody should ever have to deal with alone. This is why there is help!

    • Rethink says:

      I can’t help but comment. Sure, you have a “belief”, but that is really all that it is. I am sorry, but that is it. You aren’t all knowing, and honestly NOBODY, regardless of how many who haven’t seen and “believe” knows what is really after this. NOBODY. To simply say it is nobody’s fault, and to take such a “hands off” approach to suicidal situations, do you honestly think you are making things better? Please, also consider what you are calling “help”. Shouldn’t help be HELPFUL? I find that people who like to throw out these labels, often don’t look very far beyond them. Sure, someone does make a choice to kill themselves, but do you ever think about how many times they made choices to live before that?!! Maybe they are fed up? Maybe they have tried and tried to get their voice heard by those who claim they are there to “help” them. I am sorry, but if there is “reasoning”, then you shouldn’t be afraid to ask these questions. Please read this article,http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/12/10-ways-mental-health-professionals-increase-misery-suffering-people/, and read some of the discussions below which show that in multiple situations “professionals” have done nothing to make a situation better and have often made things worse. There is no guard against bad psychotherapy, and that needs to change if people on here really want to prevent suicide. You can look at my feedback as someone being negative, or someone who is honestly trying to help you see that there are more things that can be done that aren’t right now. The article above provides a HUGE and very BELIEVABLE reason for why “help” has often been unsuccessful.

  18. Grieving Dad says:

    I lost my 20 year old son, and only biological child over 18 months ago. I still have feelings of guilt. I don’t believe I am directly responsible for his death, but there are several things my wife and I should have done differently.

    He shot himself with my own shotgun, and we found him. It was utterly horrific. I will never forget seeing him there with my own gun at his feet. The gun had been stored in my closet unloaded, but had a shell in my hunting jacket he apparently found. He had never shot a gun in his life, I had never showed him the gun, he never asked about. Had no idea he had ever even looked at it.

    I feel I was an irresponsible gun owner. I knew he had anxiety issues, some depression, and yet kept an unlocked gun in the house. I have a hard time believing how stupid I was to have had an unsecured weapon around him. Any research into suicide, and having easy access to a gun dramatically increases the risk for suicide among young males. I just never thought he would actually go for it.

    I also feel we made a mistake by not having him on meds. He had been on anti-depressants before, but we never saw a big difference, so when he said he did not want to be on them, told us he would handle his anxiety\depression issues we believed him. I foolishly allowed the mentally ill person talk me out of his treatment. I also wish now we would have taken more aggressive action when he 1st started struggling in school, but his medical doctor had told us it was just ADD.

    He mentioned to my wife about a year before he completed how easy it would be for suicide with that gun I had, but swore to her he would never do it. She believed him, and I never new he had ever associated suicide with the gun. She now suffers a lot of guilt over that conversation, warning that she did not pick up on as a real threat. He laid out his plan right in front of her, and she did not realize he was serious.

    We did get him to agree to see a therapist for 2 years 16-18 and his therapist not once talked to us about suicide prevention. She gave us no safety plan, no things to look for, did not warn us about having an unsecure gun… All she did is once ask us if we thought he was suicidal we said no, because he never threatened himself to us. When I look at it now based on his age, gender, anxiety issues… should have realized he was a suicide risk.

    I will never forgive his mental health professional for her complete, and total failure to discuss his suicide potential, give us a safety plan, give us suicide prevention tips, do a suicide assessment on him, or anything. We trusted her, and as a mental health professional her most important job was to try to prevent him from harming himself or others. I am sure my son never admitted to her, like us he was having suicidal thoughts, but her failures to do even the basics in prevention was gross malpractice as far as I am concerned

    My son the last 2 years seemed to be making great progress, so we were completely blindsided by his suicide. I just feel there are so many things I wish we would have done differently. The clarity of 20/20 hindsight can be brutal. We just did not know, and our ignorance about suicide played a role in him completing the act. I don’t feel my wife, and I were bad parents, but the feelings of guilt are still there.

    • Margit says:

      Dear Grieving Dad,
      Please accept my deepest condolences!
      We lost our beautiful Son to suicide on February 15th 2016 , just 8 weeks ago today. He was 20 years 4 months and 5 days old.
      He was a very bright and caring young man with a wonderful future he has planned.
      We are blaming ourselves how we didn’t see this coming? !
      But even now looking back , we don’t know what we missed. Other than a mother should know , sense and feel these things.
      There is an ongoing investigation regarding our son’s suicide, and piece by piece we are finding out how much the doctors ignored him and didn’t help him at all. He was never put on medication or kept in the hospital, other than 72 hours in an emergency room without being seen by a doctor.
      I’m truly sorry for your loss, I know the pain you going through. As a family we have decided to be our Jason’s Voice and will fight for changes in the medical field and how people still think it’s a tabu and a shameful thing.
      The only shameful thing is this , we’ve lost our baby because of medical professionals ignorance.
      I will pray for you and your family

  19. Margit says:

    On Monday February 15th 2016 We have lost our beautiful son to suicide , he was only 20 years 4 months and 5 days old! I blame myself every day, but also our health care system , nobody believed him at the different hospitals he was brought into!
    And because of privacy laws we never had a phone call from any health professionals or hospitals to let us know what is going on
    I try to do things to make it better, but I can’t … it doesn’t matter what I do or say or whom I contact, nothing and nobody can bring our son back to us!
    I have the “what if” questions and “I’m his mother I should have known”. He lived 8 hours away where he went to school to and worked there , he was in the military. Such a bright boy who helped others all the time. We miss him dearly and I can’t believe he is gone from our lives! Sometimes my brain plays tricks with me, thinking he is away in school that’s why I don’t see him. Then comes the blow to the head and the punch in the stomach…
    I don’t know how I will be able to go on

    • Hollowed says:

      Margit,
      I am very sorry for your loss. I understand and know your pain. Just want to take a few moments to share my story and to hope comfort you a little, even if just for a second. I’ve recently lost my wife and she was only 23, 1.5 months away from her birthday. I thought of how young she was and how young your son is breaks my heart. I don’t want to talk about the misopportunities because I know it’ll bring both of us more pain. I am experiencing pain as a husband who’ve lost a young and beautiful wife, but I can also see the pain my in-laws had to go through. Right after I’ve read your comment, I thought of them and I felt uneasy inside and instantly I’ve tried to avoid the thought to keep that “hint” of hope back–to think that she just went away and will come back like how you thought of your son. I am sorry I don’t know what else to say, I hope by letting you know that you are not alone can give you some comfort. This pain is very intense and I wished that others, you, and I can get back some peace inside of us and strength to carry on.

      Hollowness,

    • rachel says:

      I understand … it’s like being stuck between two worlds. The land of the living ,where people still smile and carry on…and where our loved ones are, who made this terrible decision…I wanted to die every day for the first 2 months straight. (I have no fear of it anymore, that’s for sure). Waking up in the morning to the reality of things, every day, was a torture, indescribable.

      My mother got me some sedatives recently.. which I would have refused normally. (Everything I do and believe has changed) But they have been helping me sleep…and my crying has lessened so I can focus on necessary things.

      About pretending he’s just away, yes… I could almost believe that when I was out of my house, that my husband was home doing his regular things.. playing guitar/researching on the computer…It’s been three months on the 28th.
      In the first months , I found comfort in watching Near Death Experiencers… and learning about the spiritual understandings of Swedenborg.. you can find videos teachings online at ‘off the left eye’ … I take some comfort in knowing that he is alive somewhere else (in *actuality*, though another dimension/heaven) .. and that I will eventually be with him again.

      Peace to you.. I wish you healing.
      Rachel

    • Lisa H says:

      My husband committed suicide after several trips to both the ER and our GP, he was never fully honest with them about the extent of his anxiety and depression. I want so desperately to blame someone OTHER than my husband but sadly, it wasn’t even his fault, it was the disease. Am I that powerful that I have control over someone’s choice to end their life? If he had not done it when he had I honestly believe it would have occurred with another trigger or another day. We get so angry and it feels so wrong to be angry with someone you love so much, especially for something outside the “normal or accepted” cause of death. I can only speak for my situation, today is officially 2 months since my husband shot himself and there really hasn’t been one second where I felt to blame, that would be my ego to think I was so in charge and in control of his life or even mine. In his unwell brain my husband shot himself. HE did it, not the doctor, the therapist, the counselor or me. It was the worst thing he ever did but I am totally clear that HE alone made that decision. I search my heart daily for answers as to the “why” still, but all I can find is he was so unwell that HE did not see a different choice. I would not blame myself had he died of cancer or in a car accident. I did feel some judgement from others who did not know what we/he were going through, but in the end, it is only myself I must answer to. I do not have the energy to make everyone else OK with this horrible thing. We each do the best that we can as a parent, spouse, friend or whatever to the people we love and we do entrust the mental health care of our loved ones to the experts, but in my situation, I do not hold anyone in fault. I just cry and grieve. I want to add one more thing, it has only been 2 months for me but even in that short amount of time I can see my healing. I expect I will never “get over it”, but I no longer lay in bed screaming my lungs out. I now have an appetite. I am able to stay by myself and cope. I can take care of simple tasks. I am finding a new normal which I EXPECT will change about a gazillion times over the rest of my life. I read everyone’s post and say a prayer that we have the strength somewhere within us to keep on going.

  20. Rethink says:

    So, while I understand the intent of this article is to console those who wish they could have done more, there is also a time for ‘tough love’. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes it is these very people who contribute to someone finally saying “enough”! This is something I wish Stacey would balance all this out with; societal accountability. There ARE things general people in society do every day that are insensitive, and careless towards people who aren’t as fortunate as they are. If people only took the time to think about that, it might not be that way. I hear inspirational speakers talking about how great their life is, rambling on and on about things they have that many others don’t. Yes, it is good to be grateful, but there is a point where you aren’t making people who don’t have those fortunes better; you are making them feel worse.
    I have “friends” that have heard that I have considered ending it all. They had been concerned in the past, and there were a few days I came very close. They quit because it was too much pain for them to handle. One got indignant and told me that I was an “ass” because I wanted to end it. Yet, when I was really trying, and offering to do positive activities like hiking, or even housework, they were not interested. Now they ostracize me because I guess they think I am crying wolf. Do you honestly think that is the best way to treat someone with these thoughts? REALLY! Not all of my friends are this short-sighted, but there are some that I will never forgive for how they have handled the information they were given.
    One thing I wish Stacey would write about is when you have someone you care about who’s talks about the end, regardless of whether they carry out the act or not, you should appreciate when they are doing EXACTLY what you want them to do; when they are TRYING do do something to fight on! I have had small doses of good news, and tried to share those with some of the people who know I am considering the end. Because they are so wrapped up in their own feelings and frustrations, they don’t stop to see that I am doing what they flipping wanted me to do….fight on and keep trying. If you look at someone who is carrying on, and trying to avoid suicide, do you look at them and say “ah, they were just feeling sorry for themselves; look at them now!” or do you say “Wow, this person is trying to pull themselves out of a really dark place. I hope I can do whatever they need to keep going in that direction.”? Many chose the former, and not the latter approach. Sorry, but if you are really in the business of preventing suicide, why not talk about some of what society could do better?! If you dismiss every attempt (with what is very likely incredibly subjective evidence) that most that commit suicide are “mentally ill” which is a very subjective diagnosis, how do you ever plan on treating it better? Let me be clear; I SEE THAT AS A COP OUT FOR SHRINKS AND SOCIETY. If you really want to learn how to prevent this from happening, maybe you need to rethink (hence my name here) how you view these people and what they go through!

    • ByFaith says:

      I’m sorry you are hurting, first and foremost. It hurt to hear you say that people contribute to ones that want to “end it”. The choice is ultimately the person with the “already have it in their minds before anyone contributes”. I get it if other people know you want to die and they just do absolutely nothing but make it worse. I’d say they ain’t FOR you to begin with and don’t deserve you. This does not mean YOU don’t deserve to live. If anything, you should evaluate your circle of friends. RETHINK your circle. I suffer from an autoimmune disease that causes depression if I don’t stay on top of it. This is not to say I am healed or don’t get sad from time to time. I do. And I have thoughts…
      Never actions. I seek help. There’s God as my number One! If you’re not as important to your own self, meaning, you don’t love you enough to stand, to fight courageously, I’d say RETHINK this too. You ARE important, loved, cherished, even by me, some stranger who has lost her husband to suicide 1/31/16 over an argument in finding teenage pornography on his phone. I asked for a separation and got angry. I didn’t know he would take extreme measures like this. This is forgivable. I needed time to think but spoke out of hurt and anger. Wrong, yes. What he did was not the answer. Never is. If you’re not knowing that you have an illness, it could be deeper rooted, whether trauma happened at a young age, depression in the family line, etc., I’d say research it. You matter. You need nobody’s approval but deserve to be loved and respected.
      I pray you hear my heart and not some words on an internet page.

    • Rethink says:

      ByFaith,
      First, I am sorry for your grieving. I definitely can appreciate where you are coming from; it wasn’t your fault! You were rightfully angry, and I honestly doubt in your circumstance, that your reaction (granted I wasn’t there) could be a huge factor in the rational mind of anyone who decides to end it. I believe there is a difference between you and I in that I do believe rational people can weigh options, and decide that what they are looking at in the future isn’t worth carrying on for. I also am confident that we have vastly different belief systems. However, I don’t want to carry on and be insensitive to what you are going through, so I don’t want to say too much. However, I really wish to just ask one thing: considering there are many people who don’t believe there is life after death, I wish there would be some acknowledgement that there are some people who have looked at everything that is likely in front of them, and were honest with themselves in saying “It isn’t going to get better; but its very likely to get worse.” For some that really is a reality. Just like I can’t convince you to believe what I do, I don’t think it is fair to label me because I don’t believe what you do, and shrinks do this all of the time. I don’t believe that more than half of the cases of “mental illness” are just an industry trying to make money. I am sorry, but it would be nice if people would consider that.
      You are very correct that I needed to re-evaluate my friends, and some that I have kicked out have similar beliefs to you (even though they haven’t been as graceful with their wordings). Even though I know you don’t believe this, I just want to offer one other perspective on this whole thing; many believe that once you are dead, there is no more….no more suffering, no more fear, no more worry. If those feelings make up the majority of a lost one’s waking hours, maybe that is something to take solace in. I am certain you don’t believe that, but it is just another perspective to consider. There might not be doom and gloom on the other side….only peace.

    • Rethink says:

      Sorry, just one more thing….. I think ByFaith, it might be wise to read these articles. They are quite eye-opening to many who have never bothered to ask questions such as “How objective is the diagnosis of mental illness?” or “Is there any motivation behind perpetuating the idea of mental illness?” The first is a boy who was better diagnosed by his own mother than psychologists and psychiatrists : http://wakeup-world.com/2013/06/04/autistic-boy-discovers-gift-after-removal-from-state-run-therapy/
      The second is a solid essay that offers an alternative perspective on this.
      http://www.wayneramsay.com/lives-on.htm
      It is very hard for me not to respond to someone who doesn’t know me and assumes I have a “mental illness” or even some “professional” who subjectively asks questions and determines the “illness” right away. Sorry, just not big on that. It is only my hope that people be more caring to each other without telling their friends “I am not a professional, maybe you should go see someone who will charge you $100/hr to just listen, and label you.” Since when do we need degrees to listen to people? Or to be a good friend? Sorry, but part of the reason I say this is I think society could wise up a lot. We have had much more psychology over the past 50 years, and things don’t seem to be improving from it!

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Hello again Rethink,

      You might be interested in the book Against Therapy, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. I read it years ago so I don’t recall the specifics, but I do remember that the author makes similar points about choosing friends over professionals.

      Also, you wrote, “We have had much more psychology over the past 50 years, and things don’t seem to be improving from it!” That reminds me of another book that might interest you, even if only for the title: “We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World’s Getting Worse.”

      Anyway, these are small points in reference to your comment above; earlier I wrote a more lengthy reply to your first comment.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Rethink,

      You’ve made some excellent points in these comments, and I apologize for not replying earlier, especially since you specifically called me out on some areas you disagree with. I want to say this, first of all: Thank you for your feedback about where I can improve my “messaging,” as I think they call it. I learn from such feedback, and I’ve learned from you that I need to be careful not to portray a complex issue simplistically.

      Except in very rare circumstances, I don’t think others are at fault for a person’s suicide. BUT there are many lost opportunities to help. A poignant example is that of Kevin Hines. He was on the Golden Gate bridge for hours, sobbing as he walked back and forth, desperately hoping for someone to care and to help him. Finally a woman came up to him and, though his face was covered with tears, she asked him to take a photo of her. He dutifully took the picture, handed her back the camera, and then jumped off the bridge. (He is one of only 2-3 dozen who have survived that plunge, though he suffered many painful and serious injuries.)

      Now did the woman with the camera cause Kevin’s suicide attempt? No, it was caused by a confluence of many factors that he describes in his talks and in his memoir: Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt. It would be heartless and unrealistic to blame the many forces in his life that led to his attempt on that stranger with a camera, but one could reasonably say that she missed an opportunity to intervene.

      In your friends’ case (or some of your “friends,” I should say) it sounds like they have missed many opportunities to help you. It hurts to read your words and to imagine just how alone you must feel in those times. Others have described similar situations where they feel “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” (and I don’t mean religiously damned): Damned if they die by suicide, but also damned if they don’t because then people withdraw support, blame them for “attention-seeking,” etc. Somewhere on this site someone wrote at a comment that the only way to get people to care about them is at the funeral, which is tragic. I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with that.

      On this site, I do have some posts that are intended to help friends and family develop or deepen a compassionate stance toward a loved one who is suicidal. These include “10 Things Not to Say to a Suicidal Person,” “Is It Selfish to Die in a Tornado?”, and “Is a Suicide Attempt a Cry for Help?” Yet your comment helps me to see that instead of describing what not to do or say, I should also provide a picture of what does help. Unfortunately, my list of things to write and do is tortuously long at the moment, so I don’t know when I will be able to write that post, but I hope to soon.

      Thanks again for your comment, and I hope that hope and healing alight on you soon.

    • Rethink says:

      Thank you Stacey. I will look into those books. I would honestly like to see a society that is a little more geared towards genuine understanding, rather than pushing anyone who is expressing a bit of frustration towards psychology. I will look into the books. Lastly, I was thinking more about this today, and it even confirmed this more for me……almost any sign of imperfection is seen as a “mental illness” nowadays. You could probably find some flaw with ANYONE and say that is a mental illness. I don’t really think it is accurate. Thank you for the references, and I hope people who read this post will just think about this when they at least know they are dealing with someone who is suicidal. It isn’t just for you, it is feedback for those who really want to prevent this type of thing in the future. Many here wish people would hang on more; if you want that then it is wise to do things to increase the chances. Thank you for being open to my posts, and I really hope this will help people here.

    • Rethink says:

      Stacey,
      I wanted to let you know I have read a good portion of the book you recommended “We’ve had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world is getting worse.” and it even challenged me. I think it is a great book, and I wish every therapist were required to read and respond to such a book and approach to challenge them to be better. I honestly think people who dismiss challenges like this, and the ones I have placed here, don’t really belong in the arena of “helping” people. You have to be willing to be challenged if you claim to be strong enough to guide others who might have had a much tougher road than you. I wish Elizabeth, and others would see this as something they can grow from…..Thank you for the reference!

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      “Rethink,”

      You’re welcome! I’m glad that the book was helpful to you.

      I apologize for the delayed posting and response. I don’t know what’s up with WordPress, but your message didn’t appear in my Comments page until now, almost a month after you posted it.

  21. Rishi says:

    I lost my fiance on 8th March,2016. She was only 23yrs old and although we were in a long distance relationship, everything was fine. We planned to be together next month and everything was going according to the plan. She was taking antibiotics course for over a year, however it should have finished in Jan but the doctor advised her to take it for another 6 mnths which made her feel a bit worried. Nonetheless, all her family members were supportive and would help her motivate and be positive each and everyday. I used to talk to her everyday..be it early morning or late night. We should to share everything between us but still she took such a huge step. I still cant believe it. Our future was really bright and we had so many dreams but everything is shattered now. I dont know why should i be living by myself as my life is meaningless now. I dont wanna go back to work either. Everyday is painful. Everything i do is connected to her. I hope no one in this world have to face this type of situation. I dnt know what to do, life is misreable. I try to see the positives but without her everything is so dull…

    • Hollowed says:

      Rishi,

      I am very sorry for your loss. I know, understand, and can feel your pain and I am the same as you, wished that no one would ever need to go through this pain. My wife was only 23 as well; we were married when she was only 18. We’ve worked very hard to support each other and our future were so bright just like yours and your fiancé. I am almost 3 months into my grieving but it feels like just yesterday. I am sorry I can’t give you much advice or ease your pain. I do hope, by taking a few minutes out to reply to your post can give you some comfort even if it’s only for a short moment. Please do not feel alone as you can see here, many of us here are going through or went through this same horrible situation. I reply to your post not to tell you my story, but to simply let you know that there are others out there who do very much understand your situation–and I am one of those people.
      I am really sorry for your loss Rishi. Stay strong, if you need a chatting buddy, feel free to leave a message on here as I check for new messages everyday.

      Hollowed,

  22. Sarah says:

    Husband killed himself 1/31/16….
    I felt like I should have known, I felt something but not this act.
    Our baby girl is 3 months old…
    He went through a lot growing up as I did. Both Christians, know that the Bible was our source for answers…..
    Despite his past and how much he went through as a kid, I thought he was on a stronger foundation. Looking back I see the signs and try to make sense of it all. Like how could I be so– stupid.

    His entire family knew he was suicidal when we met…. how come I wasn’t let in on it. How was I to know I was being led on that he was not suffering in silence, when he was…. I miss him, his heart for others, his willingness to share the word of God.

    I found him…. he pulled a gun on himself and left me a note that is waiting for me at the detectives office. I needed a death certificate before I could go pick it up. Well now I have one and just can’t gather myself to read his last words to me……

    • Hollowed says:

      Hi Sarah,

      I am sorry for your loss. It’s not an overstatement that I know exactly how you feel and I wish I can give you a hug and let you know that there are others who are in a similar situations as you that really cared. I am on here and checking my email for this reason–I want to offer my help if it can help you in ANYWAYS. I know the pain and wished it never happen to anyone else.

      I don’t know much more to say or how to comfort you as it recently happened and as I am still in my early stage of grieving as well. However, at anytime, and I mean it, if you feel like you need someone to talk to, someone that went through the same situation, please feel free to leave a message or I can leave you my email address and our moderater will personally send you a message. I check for new posts everyday. I hope you can find the strength to get through this rough times.

      I hope my reply can give you some comfort, even just for a second.

      Hollowed,

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you and I am so– sorry for your loss 😔 not sure what God is doing but I walk so– afraid to utter a word but I know I can’t be mute and keep to myself. The letter was short, rushed and straight to the poin. Almost like he just wanted out as fast as he could possibly leave…..

      He said he loved the kids and I. How he would never hurt them. He apologized for what he did and what he was about to do and that he hopes I could forgive him and just remember all the good times we had together 😢…… then added he loved me “so– very much”.

      I am just numb. Lost…. praying to understand.

    • Hollowed says:

      Dear Sarah,

      Again, I am so sorry for your loss and I wish I know the answers or being able to ease your and my pain in some ways. I am as lost as you as each day I am asking and searching for answers myself. Please don’t feel you are alone though and as I’ve mentioned, if you need to let it out or someone to talk to (even through email), you can leave me messages on here and I’ll do my best to listen.

      I am not anywhere close to a therapist or whatsoever–and most likely I don’t know the answers to your questions. I just hope that by extending my support can comfort you in some ways. I do understand your pain even if our pain might be different. I really wish I know all the answers and can take the pain away for you and for myself as well.

      My wife texts me and said “very similar” words. I didn’t want to mention it as it only brings more pain inside. I hope each day you can find the strength to go through this Sarah.

      Hollowed,

    • Rachel says:

      Sarah..
      No words will console you so I’ll just share this-
      It happened to me in a similar way, on Dec 28th 2015. My husband kissed me goodbye and said ‘see ya tonight babe’.. then he went to a place where he remembered being abused as a child and died by suicide with a gun. A gun that his brother knew about and I didn’t. His family apparently also knew that he had a tendency toward this (from another time in his life) although I did not. Like you, I could sense something, but never expected suicide…he was under stress in his life.. mainly the mother of his 17 year old son always pressuring him for more money, recently it was four years of college money.. it was never enough. He wanted to quit his job which he hated. He said that to her the day before.. she argued for him to keep it. ( I would have encouraged him to quit as I have before) Even though I blame all kinds of people here, including myself, I think the most appropriate description of who to blame would be mentioned on this page… ‘suicidal forces’ ..or what I would call demonic forces. We weren’t church going christians but we believe in God and had written a cool song about Jesus casting out demons.. (he was/is an amazing songwriter and musician). I actually believe that these forces targeted him the most when he was looking for God… Last winter he fell into this anxiety/depression with insomnia and we caught it .. and fixed the insomnia with sleep aids.. that seemed to cure the problem. But this winter it snowballed too fast and I missed the signs. It’s been 2 and a half months and I still can’t believe this is real.
      I’m praying for you to get through. I wish I could do more. Write anytime.
      Rachel

  23. Anonymous says:

    He chosen to be set free but all I could do is hurt like always due to his
    poor choices on living his life

    • Hollowed says:

      Hi Anonymous,

      I hope time will be our friend and allows us to heal and overcome any negative thoughts. I don’t wish for a normal life ever again, but at least get some stability and control back and I hope, you can as well no matter how painful and hopeless we feel about life or how angry we are about the situation.

      I love my wife alot, no matter what, even in the worst scenario of my life. She will always be my number one simply because she loves me as much as I loved her.

      I hope that love that each of us have for our significant others can give us some sort of comfort in this rough time, even if we can no longer hold it in our hands.

      Hollowed,

  24. Someone says:

    Thank you for your articles. I have been dealing with alot with self blame since I finally came to terms with my fiancés suicide. It was a little over a month after our first child. Everybody talks about how much he loved me and how happy he was with me. They all think it was a car accident, but I know it wasn’t. I knew his battles, his pain and his discouragements. I haven’t talked about what I know but I know his brother suspects the same. In my mind I blame the disease, but I can’t help to blame myself too. And then I find myself faulting him for not loving me enough to stay. Feeling that me and my baby was part of the pressure that put him over the edge.
    It’s so hard to deal with the guilt. And I’m also ashamed because I wish I was with him and I feel selfish for feeling that way.

    • Hollowed says:

      Dear Someone,

      Unfortunately, I am in the early stage of grieving as you are and have no experience with coping with situations as such. I am sorry for your lost and hope you can find more strength each day to go through this.

      There are some people on here that took the time to respond to my post (Kim and Anonymous) with very wise words and I want to take the same time to respond back to you. I just wanted to let you know that there are others that are in the same situations as you, so please don’t feel like you are alone (even though it feels like it’s all the time).

      I just wanted to spend a few minutes of my day replying back to your post to show you the care that others have given me and I hope, even just for a little moment, that my reply can comfort you in some ways and anyways.

      Hollowed

    • Anonymous says:

      Hollowed,
      Thank you for writing again and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to get back here to talk with you… I wanted to give you a valuable resource through a woman I met… I’m not sure if I’m allowed to give you an email on here but if the moderator can forward it to you, she will listen.
      Please hang in there!
      Anonymous

  25. Kim says:

    Hollowed
    As I mentioned in my last reply, in time your grief will soften. I don’t mean to belittle your immense grief. Your wife’s suicide was just a short time ago….you are still at the beginning of your journey, and I understand it seems easier to go and join her. I wanted the same thing. It has been six years now….of course I still have difficult days, but I’m finding strength and resilience I never knew I had. You have it too. Believe in yourself. I do. You already proved you have strength and courage by sharing your story. Keep talking, writing and sharing.

  26. Kim says:

    Dear Hollowed,
    I know the pain you are feeling is like a bottomless pit, no light at the end of the tunnel. I KNOW! My husband and I were married for 18 years. He killed himself 14 days after our 18th anniversary. I never saw it coming. The ache in my heart will always be there. I will forever yearn for his touch, his beautiful blue eyes, his love. I miss his embrace terribly. I have obsessed about the “what if’s”. Healing can be rough and even frightening at times. Your wounds will remain but your sorrow will evolve, you have to let it. Remember that healing doesn’t mean you will forget. Allow yourself to heal. The thick haze of grief will slowly lift a little every day. You will find your strength. It is in you. Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out for help. I am always here.

    • Hollowed says:

      Thanks again Kim and I am sorry for your lost as well. Your words are very comforting. I am just too scared and just don’t know how to cope with the guilt or not blaming myself for what happened. It frightens me every time I think or have a flashback of that night, I go into shock. I started shaking head and moving my body as if I am mentally breaking down–I think in some ways, I am and I know that is not a good sign as I have never done that before. I am already enduring so much physical pain along with emotional and mentally pain. I feel like my defense wall is being taking down from all sides. Even if I have the thought of “time can lessen the pain”, I am just too horrified by what happened to a point that I don’t care if it even gets better. “So what if it gets better, things still will never be the same” was my constant thought. My heart stops beating each time I think about it; this sense of hopelessness knowing I will never have the “chance” to change and make things better for the both of us.

      The reasons I decided to share my story are:
      1. I am hoping that anyone who has the idea of hurting themselves can see my post and re-think what they have in mind by reading the pain that he survivors have to endure and go through.
      2. I am hoping that I can comfort others as well as myself by letting the world know what happened.
      3. I am hoping that I can find some support from others who went through the same situations as well and NOT by a licensed therapist with a piece of paper who might not experienced this “pain” first hand.

      There are many moments during the day that I paused, stopped everything and let the pain consumes me. I think of all the good and bad(moments that I yearned to have still) moments we had together and nothing seems to “clicked”. It seems surreal and things are not in-order, nothing made sense and aligned up. I feel like I am in this deep trance of thoughts and then once snapped out of it when one of the memories are too painful that it brought me back to reality. 100% of the time, I get worse each time this happened.

      I have some plans in my head right now–financially if I can set things straight and trying to work on some projects for my wife in memory of her. Knowing that some of us on here take years to even lessen the pain, I don’t know if I have years to endure such pain–or waking up every morning and re-living every moments of that night–asking myself tons of questions that only push me further back. I hope I can see a hint of light at the end of the tunnel or else I am afraid my lights will be turning off of as well. To your advice, I will give myself sometime and in the meantime.

      There is a Vietnamese saying: “If I don’t go to hell, no one will do it for me.” By not facing the pain and overcome it, I will never be able to overcome it. Time is both my friend and enemy.

      Today is another sunny day in Oregon, another day that I missed an opportunity to take my wife out and this pain continues.

      Hollowed,

    • Anonymous says:

      Hollowed,
      Frozen in place, unable to breathe, beyond pain, beyond any thought other than scanning the parking lot for help. Words aren’t spoken outside your thoughts, but if they they were they’d say, “help me. Please. I’m going to kill myself. Oh my God, I’m going to kill myself!” Then they stop, you don’t want to die but the surge of pain and confusion and guilt is unbareable… After a few moments the thoughts are under control and they begin to subside back into the dark recesses which surround your heart.

      I’ve been there, I want my son. I want to find him, to hold him, to love him.

      You’re not alone with your thoughts. They are terrifying because unless you’ve been on this side of suicide you don’t even know of their existence – of their power.

      And no one seems to understand. You’re not alone. Others are moving with only the motions of life after this loss. Your wounds are still fresh, they morph into fresher stages over the first year and a half… I don’t know beyond that point because that’s where my journey is now.

      What I can say is the surges of searing pain aren’t visiting so frequently as they did at 6 months after the departure. There are real smiles, real laughter, and the touches of beautiful memory coming forward.

      Please know you’re not alone. I’m sorry I can’t write more now but I will if you’d like me to later.

      Please take care, it’s ok to feel what you are. You’re not going crazy, you’re being a human who has experienced an un-fathomable loss.

    • Hollowed says:

      Thank you Anonymous

      I completely understand what you meant and your words are very wise. I really really appreciate it and would love to hear more from you. I know for a fact I am fighting the demons inside of me and also fighting the demons that took my wife.

      I know my wounds are fresh and it only gets worse each day. Deep down, I know I don’t want to die but rather wanting to live on. As you said, the pain, the confusions, and the guilt is just unbearable, which then makes the separation between life and death is not by another event, but rather simply by hanging on that thread or a simply white line drawn between the two. I am doing my best balancing myself on this thread and trying not to fall on the wrong side. I want to be strong for my wife as that’s what my wife would have wanted for me, but where can I find the strength to do so when that strength has taken away from me–when that strength was my wife. She was the reason for me to become who I am right now–a man with focus and motivations. She was the reason I fought on to better and improve myself so that she and I can have a bright future ahead of us. Now what’s left of me is nothing but hopelessness and senselessness while trying to look for that same reasons knowing they are no longer there.

      What purposes do I have left to help me keep fighting when such purposes are no longer exists? I’ve asked this question not in a pessimistic way, but rather wanting some sort of hope for myself. I feel like I am one lost soul without my wife wandering around until one day I meet her again.

      Hanging on a thread here and will try to fight on.

      I don’t mind giving away my email or Facebook. Thank you Anonymous and Kim for all your comforting words

      Hollowed

  27. Hollowed says:

    I’ve recently lost my wife on December 15, 2015 and she was 1.5 months away from turning 24. She just recently graduated from college and had a wonderful job last summer. It was all perfect to us and a lot of people surrounding us. I never thought or imagine this would be the end of us and that I would be left alone living this life or trying to survive it. I have questioned many self over and over and can’t stop blaming myself for what happened. It makes it even harder knowing how young she is, the future she has planned for hers and us, and all of the opportunities in life that “we” no longer can live it together. It has been an uphill battle that seems to never end. Each day passed by, instead of feeling a bit better, I feel worse knowing how wonderful my wife was and that I will NEVER be able to touch and feel her anymore. It’s like a horror movie on repeat. I am 31 and today is my birthday – I am too scared to even think of what tomorrow brings, let alone trying to live this life for the next 30 years. I have many thoughts to just end it all and go see my wife and be with her again or wish for an accident to happen. The feelings and thoughts of being alone without my wife is so scary. I feel so hollow without her and left wandering around questioning myself how can I go on.

    Wound can heal and pain can eased, but how can I live with the guilt of not being able to help my wife that night?

    Hollowed

    • Kim says:

      Dear Hollowed
      I have read your post many times over and each time I cry. I have been where you are now; the pain so intense that you wish to be with your loved one, hoping to have an “accident”. I know it seems like the pain will never go away, but only get worse. Hold on, PLEASE! Allow yourself to feel the pain, you don’t need to rush it. There is no formula, no time frame. Be kind to yourself. Hold on to hope. Be your wife’s witness to the wonderful person that she was.

    • Hollowed says:

      Thank you Kim.
      In a few hours, my wife will turn 24. I have tried to take in as much pain as possible and tried to find the bottom, but it seems like it’s bottomless. I kept falling deeper and deeper. Since the day I post my first comment, I’ve gotten much worse to a point, of really consider following her. Not just the pain is too much to handle, but every thoughts of her not being here and will never be here anymore–for me to touch, kissed, smell, caress, hugs, adored give me a sense of hopeless. I’ve been asking myself what I am doing here left alone? I am as good as dead right now. I have hoped for better days, but if those days doesn’t come soon enough, I am afraid the best solution for me is to follow my wife.

      Last night, I looked at the ceiling of my house and thought of how my wife passed away, it scared the living out of me–I kept saying to myself “my wife didn’t have pain, my wife wasn’t hurt” and repeated it over and over to myself. I am so drained and losing my strength each day. If each day I am losing a fight, I am afraid, I will lose this battle.

      I’ve said to my wife “one day we will meet again”, as of right now, I hope that day can come as soon as possible. I hope everyone surrounding me would understand and doesn’t feel as much pain–because the pain that I am feeling right now of losing my wife and soulmate is just too much for me to handle.

      Hollowed

  28. Dalida says:

    My husband died by suicide almost 8 months ago,wow as I just typed that it doesn’t seem that long… We were together for 7 years married for 3. We have two amazing boys. Truth is February 2015 I miscarriaged it was horrible and we handled it completely different. I started doing PTO with boys school and volunteer for field trips, I worked overtime at my job. I stayed busy. Him on the other hand started drinking a lot and went to doctors to get on depression meds. Doctor wouldn’t give him any because he was a healthy 30 year old man. He started taking old prescription of mine. We stopped talking,growing and just weren’t really happy. In April 2015 I had an affair, he walked in…. It’s was bad all around. We were going to get divorced. But after two days he came to me and told me how much he loved me and how sorry he was for everything. I told him the same. We made the choice to go to marriage counseling. It went great the first three weeks. Then he started drinking, more than before and infront of the kids. While after two weeks of that one night after the boys went to bed. I told him that if he wanted to make this work he would have to quit drinking. As much as I love him if he chose not to that I would leave with the kids. I took a shower, when I got out he was drunk. I told him I was going to Jack In The Box for food to sober him up. He told me he loved me and that he wasn’t going to drink anymore. I left came back and found him. He hung himself in our bedroom closet. I cut him down, performed CPR and Mouth to mouth everything. He was pronounced dead when EMTs showed up. He was only 31, I’m only 26. These last few months have been the hardest! Almost he only family turned against me and blamed me for his death due to the affair. Some even said I murdered him and set the whole thing up. I struggle everyday with my guilt and its so hard to not take on the what if’s and I should’ve and if I didn’t cheat. If I didn’t tell him I was gonna leave if he didn’t stop. If I didn’t leave to get food…. Reading this article has opened my eyes and if I start questioning myself about who’s at fault I’ll ask myself some of these questions. Thank you

    • Kimberly says:

      Dalida
      Your story is very similar to mine. I have punished myself many times over, blaming myself for my actions before my husbands suicide, and the guilt after his suicide. I am estranged from his family because they blame me for his death. My life shattered. You are not alone and you are not to blame. Alcohol combined with depression is so dangerous. Your affair as mine was not to blame for your husbands suicide. I begged my husband over our 18 yr marriage to get help for his drinking. He used the alcohol to numb his stress from all that he experienced as a police officer. I loved my husband dearly, even though I had an affair. But it was his choice to pull the trigger to end his life. I still miss him and struggle 6yrs later, however it does get easier. I’ll never get over it but I will get through it. Going to a therapist has helped me tremendously. Please don’t go through this alone. One day, one step at a time. You will discover you are stronger and more resilient then you ever imagined.

    • Kayla says:

      Wow I really wish I could talk to u! I found my fiancé on December 9th… He hung himself also. I feel so much blame. I also told him he either had to stop drinking or I was taking the kids and leaving him. He told me he loved me and he was going to stop drinking. He just wasn’t going to drink anymore. Few days later I woke up and couldn’t find him. It’s so hard not to blame yourself in this situation. Your situation is so similar to mine it’s crazy!

  29. J says:

    My husband’s Dad killed himself today. They hadn’t talked in years even though we live in the same town. It was a complicated situation where his Dad had abused him and his mom when my husband was young, tried to reconcile as ‘friends’ in early adulthood, and then it was his Dad who suddenly cut us all off years ago (including me and our children – his grandkids he claimed to love). Now we learn that his Dad had ALS and hospice had been called… so he killed himself. He said he didn’t want to burden anyone so he’d kept it a secret. And yet, he left no note of explanation – no apologies or last goodbye’s – no closure for my husband. He called his daughter to tell her he loved her yesterday – her birthday. But there was nothing for my husband. It’s like it was meant as his final and ultimate punishment. What can I say? How can I help him deal with this?

  30. Kim says:

    I lost my husband to suicide six years ago, and I too am faced with many people thinking I should be “over it” by now. I’ll never get over it…I’m getting through it. Each day is a struggle and many days are filled with tears. I still have many memories that haunt me but I do my best to remember the thousands of memories that make me smile. I will always yearn for his touch, the sound of his voice and his beautiful blue eyes.
    I remind myself I am not alone, and the many people who reach out on this website understand this roller coaster of emotions.

  31. My son took his life 4 years ago, I still cry almost every day. I miss him so. He has missed out on so many things in life, I love him so much. Everyone seems to think I should be over it by now. I cry in private. No one knows the hell I go through, wishing I could hug him one last time, to speak to him one last time, to tell him I love him, just one more time. He never left a suicide note.

  32. Nathan says:

    I lost my sister to suicide on November 30th 2015. The last time I spoke with her was a month earlier and I told her I was done with her and I was extremely upset with her. This breaks my heart knowing that I didn’t say I love you that the last thing I spoke to her were words of hate. Deep down I know I can’t blame myself but it is so painful to know that was our last conversation. It is painful to think about the fact that she just killed herself without even thinking about how it would effect her family. She had a family that loved her and I can’t understand how she could do this to her family. Suicidal thoughts are one thing but actually going through with it and making it to where your family cant see you anymore is just the ultimate punishment to your loved ones. The worst part is no one even knows the ultimate reason why she did this. She appeared fine all day until the moments before she did it. I am just at a loss and can’t even piece together why she did it let alone start to comprehend that she is gone forever.

  33. agaperus says:

    I lost my younger brother one year ago. He was a brilliant sensitive poet. Live was increasingly painful for him and he self medicated with drugs and alcohol over the years. just before he took his life, he was facing homelessness and I offered him a place to stay. His demeanor lightened; he was grateful and told me that I offered him the piece of hope that he needed. Just before he moved out here though I reminded him that he couldn’t drink or do drugs; that if he did he would have to find a different place to live. That’s when I saw the change. He hardened; the light left him. He said ‘don’t worry’ it will be ok. Those were the last words he spoke to me and then he hung himself. I am still in shock; I can’t mourn; I hate myself for saying those words to him. Thank you for this website. Reading the other stories is helpful. God bless.

  34. DM says:

    My friend committed suicide 2 weeks ago.
    I know him through facebook but I’ve never met him, I live in other country, and I don’t know his family.
    Two months ago he told me that he had suicide attempt but failed.
    A week before his death he told me that he is thinking about suicide, again. Then he said that he is thinking about traveling and buying a new camera. We didn’t talk after that.
    A day before his death he wrote “Goodbye”, and the next day I discovered that he died.
    I feel guilty, I keep saying “if only” ‘I wish”, I blame my self because I said too little, and I blame my self because I didn’t talk him after telling me his thoughts about suicide.
    He told me that I’m the only person has honest feelings towards him. I feel really bad when I remember these words, I don’t deserve them.
    He was wonderful, I miss him.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      DM, I’m so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how hard it would be to try to stop someone from suicide when you’ve never met the person, you live in a different country, and you don’t know the person’s family. I also understand how hard it can be to regret what you did not say. I hope you will have some compassion for yourself during this painful time. Also please check out the Resources page at http://www.speakingofsuicide.com/resources/#survivors for more information about coping with suicide loss.

    • Stephanie says:

      I don’t know if this is in regards to NK in Arizona, but if so… Please contact me if you can.

  35. Lisa says:

    Please also mention the causes of mental illness. Narcisstic parenting leads to scapegoating, which causes depression. Depression may very well be a disease, but a preventable one. Teach coping skills. Take accountability in your parenting. Are you too rigid? Are you emotionally distant ? Do you enable a troubled spouse and not listen to your child? Do you sweep things under the rug? Do you argue too often in front of your kids? Do you put your emotional pain before your child’s?
    So, in the beginning, you do have some control over children’s self-talk. By the end, when it’s too late and the victim exhibits self-harm as overt cries for help, it many times is too late.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Mary and Stacey: Thank you for your kind words. It’s been 8 months now since my friend killed himself, and what would have been his 28th birthday is this coming Tuesday. I still mourn his loss, and my heart still hurts thinking of the pain he must have been in. But I remind myself that you can’t mourn what you do not love, and you can only feel pain if you’re alive. I appreciate your insights, in the article and in the comments. If anyone else who has lost a loved one to suicide reads this follow-up, please know that there are people out there who understand the pain you’re in. There’s really nothing anyone can say or do to help lessen the pain of your particular loss, but people know. Even when you feel most alone, others are there. I met 1,200 of them at an AFSP Out of the Darkness community walk this fall. I walked alone, but I walked the same road as everyone else, and still do, and will for some time to come, I know. Seeing so many people walking in memory of friends, parents, siblings and spouses was very healing, because I knew all of them were going through the same emotions I was. Acceptance of this new normal is slow. But it happens. Thank you for providing this forum. It’s helped me work through a lot of pain, just knowing I’m not alone.

  37. My War says:

    My 20 year old brother sat me down 26 years ago when I was 13 and he asked me what I would do if he killed himself. He explained how he was going to do it, and answered my questions as I found breath to ask in between my tears and sobs. Our parents had always blamed him for anything I ever did wrong and he couldnt take it any longer. I begged him not to go, fearing for him, his eternal salvation, and the loss of our friendship. He explained it was his choice, that they were going to lie about his death, but that he loved me no matter what. He was also facing some prison time, yet had a deffered sentence for 2 years; I was about to be sent out of state to my fathers to live as it was a deliberate move to tear us apart once and for all. I did write, and I got a letter back. 5 months later and 36 days before my 14th birthday he put a 9mm pistol in his mouth and ended his life, though it took him 61 minutes to die.

    Sure enough, they lied to me. For whatever reason I jumped aboard their denial train and have been living in a fog of depression, failure, violence and tears. I have recently began to come to terms with the truth and have severed ties with our family. My mother told him to make it look like an accident and even bought a life insurance policy. My father had told him that it was what he should do, and that he had already messed my life up, though they have never accepted that it was their constant maltreatment of my brother that was making me suicidal as well and even before he had told me of his plan.

    I’m now 40. No children (wonder why), no wife, and a terrible outlook on my family and even my younger siblings that never knew my beloved brother but think they understand, and only believe what they have been told by the people that pushed him to his suicide. I only replaced my brothers role of scapegoat after his death, being told that i had ruined everyones christmas, that noone wanted me, and that i always look like shit due to my clothes and music taste. I survived thankfully, though I had turned to anger and violence in order to cope, and ended up doing prison time myself when I turned 20. Somehow now, my mother has blamed me for his death, and my father just doesn’t even care.
    I find myself here as I have been struggling to deal with this any further and I do find solace in reading these other comments. I hope we all can find peace and that we will all see our loved ones again. I have to believe that to keep going.

    • Lisa says:

      Please see my recent post. I’ve witnessed denial as an observing sister-in-law. You are doing the best you can. Probably smart not to marry. Difficult as s spouse, slowly seeing this behavior unfold, not knowing what is real, the family secrets. I saw the suicide coming, but was accused of ” meddling”. He died violently, but I still remember him as a kind and insecure teen.
      Selfish parenting isn’t your fault.
      At least you didn’t play along with it. Good for you.
      I cannot say the same, unfortunately, about my husband and question everything about him now.
      Mistrust will be the demise of our marriage. I can’t live like nothing happened, fake and ‘sweet’ when I feel angry with their family. Just unhealthy to me.
      God Bless.

    • Doris says:

      So sorry for your loss… That was not your fault … It is sad how evil our true families can be … Why would they hurt the ones they are suppose to love ??? Sad and sick …im glad u are able to keep moving forward … Prove them wrong by being everything they were not … loving caring husband/father … I know easier said then done. I believe no matter how someone dies we will see them again… our souls will meet again…

  38. Kim says:

    My husband committed suicide 6yrs ago. I blame myself. I had an affair and told him it was because of his drinking. He was a high functioning alcoholic who believed he didn’t have a problem. I don’t know why I did what I did because he was and still is the love of my life. I hate myself. I can’t move forward. I’m seeing a therapist and she has helped with the panic attacks and symptoms of PTSD, however I don’t see a full recovery in my future because I cannot forgive myself for my husbands suicide. I miss him so much, it physically hurts.

    • Mary says:

      Kim, my husband too battled a drinking problem. He knew he had a problem in the end and he knew it was taking more and more away from him each day but he would not let me tell anyone and he would not ask for help. Please don’t hate yourself. I don’t know if it will help you but I spoke to someone from AA after my husband died and he said there are two ways an alcoholic stops drinking. Either they make the choice to not take another drink or they die…and death by suicide is high. I didn’t know that before. I learned many things after my husband died. January will be six years for me. It has taken me a long time to let go of the blame even though it still hurts like it was yesterday. I hope you can forgive yourself because it wasn’t your fault. I too have panic attacks now…not as many as when it first happened. And I have symptoms of PTSD, I think mostly because I was the one who found him and that more than anything will stay with me all my life. Be kind to yourself whenever you can.

  39. Burdened says:

    I can never forgive myself for not helping my brother before he died by suicide. He was 4 years older than me. We were very close growing up and as adults. We grew up in an abusive home were he always protected me. I am so horrible that when he puts his last words on Facebook that say “No one gives a shit about me, the time has come”. I didn’t even call him or check on him. I knew he was struggling as his wife had been cheating on him with several men. He had attempted a few months before. So to be honest, I failed! The only thing I can do now is punish myself. I completely despise myself. I am a monster who does not deserve compassion or love or even to breath oxygen! I should be publicly exterminated by something extremely painfully! The time has come…

    • Anonymous says:

      I understand your pain. My grandson did not die but he shot himself with my gun…and I can’t forgive myself

    • Mary says:

      My heart hurts for you after reading this. You don’t deserve any of this, not to have lost your brother, not to have the memory of abuse growing up and not to blame yourself for his death. The reasons why they do it are so complicated and so varied. I think if we could ask them why even they wouldn’t be able to adequately put it into words. The one thing I have learned these last six years is that if someone has it in their mind to absolutely do it…they will no matter what is said or done. I realise now, it was always there as a last resort for my husband. I didn’t realise it at the time. You don’t deserve punishment…losing a loved one to suicide is more punishment than any person should ever have to go through. You are despicable and you are not a monster. You do deserve compassion and love and oxygen.

    • Corey says:

      Please don’t blame yourself it’s not your fault it’s horrible what you’ve been through but there is help out there

  40. sharon says:

    There is no way I can forgive myself for my husbands sucide … I found him in our bedroom covered in blood n watched him take his last breath……ITS MY FAULT NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!!!!

    • Mary says:

      Sharon it isn’t your fault. It may take you months or years to come to that conclusion in your own mind. I found my husband pretty much the same way you found yours…except my husband was already gone. In the early days and weeks and months it seems like all you feel is guilt and you think you deserve it. You think you live with this big secret that what you did or didn’t do, what you did or didn’t say, could have made the difference in his choice. When it is their choice. It’s not rational, it doesn’t make any kind of sense to us…but it only has to make sense to them. Please be kind to yourself.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Mary, what you wrote is so true. Thank you for sharing your experience and insights with others.

  41. Juanita says:

    A very insightful article about a difficult topic. Its not only self blame but often I feel others are blaming you indirectly for your loved ones suicide. There needs to be more compassion and less judgment.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Its been 18 yrs this year since I lost my husband through suicide the pain still continues but the guilt is slowly easing yes we do all have what ifs or if onlys my brother also took his life just over 5 yrs sgo and this i can not seem to accept he was my big brother

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Anonymous,

      The pain of losing one’s husband to suicide can be devastating. Then to have lost your brother to suicide, too – I can only imagine (and yet it is hard to fathom) the extent of your grief. I am so sorry.

      Having a loved one died by suicide, let alone two loved ones, is one of the many things that can lead people to consider suicide themselves. If you are having suicidal thoughts, I urge you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255 (TALK) if you live in North America. You can find other resources on this site’s Resource page at http://www.speakingofsuicide.com/resources/#immediatehelp.

      Have you connected with any suicide loss survivor groups? You can find links to lists of support groups in a different section of the Resources page of my site: http://www.speakingofsuicide.com/resources/#survivors. There is great value in talking with others who have lost a loved one to suicide.

      I know your wounds are deep, and yet healing can occur. I wish for such healing for you!

  43. Anonymous says:

    I’ve said the words “If only” at least 10,000 times in the last 6 weeks. A friend of mine, my former massage therapist (27), messaged me at 3 am his time one morning earlier this year. He sent me links to 2 songs he’d just posted, and told me he thought I was a cool person. We exchanged a couple of lines, he signed off. It was uncharacteristic of him to sign off the way he did, but at 3 am on a Saturday night/Sunday morning, and knowing he often worked overnight on his music and often drank wine while he worked, I didn’t follow up with him. I thought he was slightly drunk, frankly. I didn’t send him a message saying “Are you ok? This doesn’t sound like you.” When I didn’t get any more music posts from him after several weeks, I went looking for him. His Facebook account had been deactivated, and in a Google search I found his obituary. He’d died later the same day he sent me the messages, three months earlier. I started obsessively searching for information; it’s astounding what you can find on the internet. He’d killed himself a few hours after he messaged me. He posted music links at 2 am his time, and added dedications to a couple of them about 7 or 7:30 am, and killed himself a little later that morning. Friends of his had posted comments saying he’d said goodbye differently the last time they’d seen each other a few days before. One friend posted that he wouldn’t answer when asked why he was upset that week. All the comments posted showed that nobody knew he was suicidal and nobody knew what he was so upset about at the time. I don’t know any of his friends, or his family, or his co-workers. l’d moved across the country and we hadn’t seen each other in nearly a year. And all I can think of is – I felt something was off. I’m three months behind everyone else he knew in grieving for him, and I have to say that mourning a suicide is like mourning no other death I’ve ever known, including that of my mom, my dad, my older sister and the youngest of my brothers (all to disease or old age). I’ve lost friends to horrible accidents, and the mourning isn’t the same. I can understand accidents, and disease, and old age. I can’t understand suicide. I wasn’t as close to my friend as other people were, but after being naked on the massage table with his elbow in my spine, and after sharing stories about our families, our love lives, our adventures in education, I cared for him more than I did most of my family. Thank God that when I moved away, I’d actually told him how much I respected him and his work, and that I liked him more – and saw him more often – than I did much of my family. I don’t have that regret, at least. But I still wonder – If only I’d said something that morning, could I possibly have made a difference? Would the outcome have been different if I’d asked him if he was OK? Was he like the man in the story who left the note saying that if someone smiled at him he wouldn’t jump? If someone – me – had asked, would my friend still be here, still be making music, still be alive? Or did the man in the story jump anyway even after someone smiled at him? Would it have made any difference to my friend, or not? All the statistics say he would have killed himself anyway. He apparently planned his suicide for at least 3 days, and didn’t respond to friends who were closer to him. Every day I cry for the pain he must have been in, and the fact he felt he had to keep that pain hidden from everyone. I can only imagine how trapped he must have felt that suicide seemed the better option. My head knows that nothing I said caused his suicide, nothing I could have said would have prevented it. But I keep hearing “If only” every day in my heart, and the pain I feel goes incredibly deep. I miss him, and I’m sad for his family and friends, and sad for the pain he had to go through. I can’t begin to imagine how the people who were closer to him can even get through their days. Thank you for posting these articles. It does help to know others have been here, and have survived.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      “Anonymous,”

      What agonizing questions to have torment you! Sadly, those questions are typical among many people who lose someone to suicide. And there are no real answers.

      As you note, the journey after suicide is uniquely painful relative to grief in other types of death. There is something different about suicide, whether it is a tormenting sense that one could have somehow prevented the death by saying just the right thing at just the right time, feelings of empathy and sorrow for the pain the person experienced, bewilderment that the person’s pain was invisible and unheard, or some other source of despair without resolution.

      I am wondering if you’ve met or spoken with others who have experienced suicide loss. Although everyone’s experience with grief is ultimately unique, there also are some commonalities. To find resources for people who have lost a friend or family member to suicide, please check out the Resources page at http://www.speakingofsuicide.com/resources/#survivors.

      I am very sorry for your loss, and I wish for you peace and healing.

    • Mary says:

      I read your post twice. The mourning is not the same, the grieving is not the same. And it is something you really can’t understand unless you have been through it. Most times I feel they do everything they can to not let people know they are planning to leave this earth. I think they don’t want to burden anyone with that knowledge nor do they want to be stopped. That your friend reached out to you showed that among all the people in his life you were one that he wanted to connect with before he died. Of course you couldn’t have known that. And honestly we all notice something in the aftermath of the loss that we didn’t really notice before. Your post was very touching. I am glad that you know you could not have prevented this. So many are never able to get past that.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Mary, what a kind and thoughtful comment. Thank you for reaching out. I hope the writer of the original comment sees it. I also know that others who are in a similar situation and who read your comment might find solace in it. Thank you again.

  44. Donna says:

    My son completed suicide because he could no longer take the pain and hurt from his father, you say no one is to blame I do not agree with that My son was never good enough ,or never smart enough ,he could not live up to his fathers standards.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Donna,

      I am so sorry for your loss. How devastating to have lost your son. And how devastating to have witnessed his suffering. It sounds like there are many reasons why you blame his father. I cannot speak to your son’s specific situation. What matters most, to me, is the incredible pain you must feel about not only his death, but also what he endured in life.

      I hope you are receiving some support for this pain, whether from friends, family, professionals, or someone else. Please check the Resources page on this site for supports for people who have lost a loved one to suicide, as well as for people in crisis themselves.

      May you find some peace, hope, and healing soon, Donna.

    • Carlene Hill Byron says:

      Donna: I knew another family where the teen called an out-of-state aunt over and over asking, “Why do I have to live in a crazy family?” And since the father was her brother, she knew the boy was not just “talking teen,” he was describing realistically what was going on. The young man eventually did die by suicide. His aunt wasn’t able to convince him that he could survive long enough to grow up.

      But we both know how complicated it can be to make changes in a family. I left my home last fall after spending nearly a decade in separate rooms (because he said I snored), discovering him online with other women in the middle of the night, and experiencing other behavior that undermined my sense of agency and competence. I *should* have left the marriage 19 years ago in the first week — when he didn’t have time to fix the front step that broke under me while I was moving in, didn’t understand that his new wife also needed to have bathroom time in the morning, etc. But I stayed put for more than 19 years. Shame, pride, whatever.

      Destructive situations create cycles that seem inescapable for everyone involved. So grieve and be angry that your husband overwhelmed your child. Be angry and upset that you couldn’t figure out a way to protect your child. Understand that even in the face of such a gigantic loss, God can forgive you both for what right now seem entirely unforgivable errors. And at some point, a couple years down the line when you’ve got more strength to deal with change, some “Boundaries” practices (Henry Cloud) might make bad behavior less comfortable for your husband.

      I’m so glad that your son knew how much you cared for him. We all feel really confused and upset when this happens to someone we love. We all imagine that there was a bit of time we “wasted” or used in “self-indulgence” that could have turned the tide if used differently. But the reality is, you can only do what you can do at any given moment. You only know what you know. And the best we can do sometimes isn’t as good as we want it to be. So you lost your son. I lost my roommate. My friend lost her nephew. And we will all go forward from here, knowing more and doing better. Blessings on you, dear sister.

    • Carlene Hill Byron says:

      Donna: comment #2, several hours later. I just found out that a professional acquaintance died by suicide this week. I had to listen to an angry friend blame other group members for making him feel unwanted. And so I would just say: for as long as you can manage, please try to set aside the blame. If there is to be any hope for the relationships among the living, it will come as we console each other, not as we accuse each other. Please allow yourself to believe that everyone who failed to be a “kindest adult” or “really good friend” is experiencing recriminations right now … or has, like me, suffered so many huge losses (this is the 19th suicide in my circles) that they’ve made a habit of putting suffering on a high shelf, to take down only on occasion for consideration. Peace and consolation be with you.

  45. anonymous says:

    so I met this guy. and we both had strong feelings for each other and one night I told him I didn’t think it would work out because I’m moving somewhere further out. and then I got a text saying “you said exactly what my ex said” and it broke me down. and he even said he was going to kill himself and I kept trying so hard to stop him but then he stopped replying and my messages were never read and I can’t help but think it’s all my fault and I’m the cause of his death.. anyone please can anyone please reply and let me know if I’m right to think it’s my fault because I can’t stop thinking that it is. please anyone out there.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear Anonymous,
      Everyday my own heart pings with guilt. That my words were the catalyst to the final act.
      They play over and over like a a skipping record, then the choices made throughout my life join in… The tiniest actions, maybe I forgot to smile once….
      When the event is fresh, and the wounds are so open, its hard for anyone not to believe their actions would’ve or could’ve stopped the event.
      Their acts are silent though. The final moments. Somehow the tangible world must slip away and only then does time stop…. Do they hear their hearts? The last breaths? Is it calm? Did their pain subside with knowing it’s soon be over?
      It’s not our words, and it’s not our actions that tie the knots, swallow the pills, or pull the triggers…. It is done from so far away, it’s almost not the person themselves…. Its like a foreign “demon” they fight with called suicide.
      I am not mad at my son, I am sorry for him. I am sorry he lived with such torment and pain. He never showed it, he wasn’t on medication, wasn’t self medicating. He was lonely. He was an old soul living a life where modern technology rules the roost; no one looks anyone in the eyes, their phones and friends on the phones trump those standing right before them, which creates emptiness.
      My son was a savant in physical mathematics; he saw the world through very unique eyes… Always did he stop for the sunset.
      Your words did not cause the act. Your words were your own…. They were truthful at the time. And had this event not happened, they wouldn’t be so painfully pressing.
      I believe the young man you wrote of knows your remorse and wouldn’t want you to remember him with guilt, but instead just remember him, for him…
      Please know I’m sorry you’re feeling this way… It’s not easy.
      It’s only been 9 1/2 months since my son left, and I drive down the street with tears flooding my eyes to the point I pull over. I scream with pain because I don’t what else to do. I miss my son. I miss him

  46. scott says:

    I’m not ashamed to say you moved me to tears…thought I was all cried out the past 11 days:) They are good tears. Thank you for being so kind to me, a total stranger, despite your own overwhelming struggle. Thats so selfless. Like I’ve said I’ve never been a super religious kind of guy, or prayed a lot, but I truly feel like I was meant to look online, find this thread, and hear your words. I don’t know your belief system, but thank God you were here. I will check back in. And I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. It honestly feels like the nicest thing anybody has ever done for me. Thank you for this gift

  47. scott says:

    Anonymous and Stacey…just thought I’d check back in for a few reasons. First off Stacey, I think you are right about how some words from complete strangers can begin the healing. Honestly everytime I try to explain how I’m feeling to people in my life it doesn’t seem to come out right, or at least I feel like they aren’t quite comprehending what I’m saying in full. I’m a very, very large man. 6’6 350 lb football player. Physically imposing even though my my family and a VERY select few that know me 100% know 5’9 160 at heart. I think it’s hard for people to look totally past that and be fully understanding. The words from anonymous, I person I will never meet, they struck a cord with me in a way that eased me a little. And right now I’ll take a little and be more than grateful. I’m starting to come out of my shell just a little bit. I went back to work, and it’s hard but at least I’m out of my room. I talked to some guys on my team, and told them thanks for all they are trying to do, I was ignoring everybody. I don’t know why but I blocked my sister out and she was terrified for me. In my state of mind I didn’t know me being so low was hurting her. Ironic because when J. hung herself it destroyed me I should have known my recent behavior was affecting others. Sorry I’m off track, I just wanted to say thank you again. Although I’m so so so sorry you are enduring this with your son, I want you to know that you sharing your personal pain so raw and honest really helped me. I just reread everything, and even though I’m in a bad place, where I was 4 days ago was pitch black. I know I’m just in the infancy of learning how to deal with this, but before I never though there was a chance I could. I was scaring myself with my thoughts. Maybe this is the next phase of it, but Ive been writing her messages on her Facebook message even though she will never see. I went from please come back and take me with you this place sucks, to last night I wrote her thank you for making me so happy in our short time. Still can’t wrap my head around how at the exact same time she was making me so happy but she was in personal hell. If only she could have known. I tell people I love them now. I didn’t do that as much as I should have. Maybe the praying is helping. I’ll continue to do so. I feel like I just kind of rambled, bUT I just feel comfortable here. I’m working on being comfortable in front of others. I hope I get there. My life has changed. Thanks for listening. I hope knowing you helped me help you, even a little.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wanted to find him, to go to him, to hold him. I just couldn’t find the door into death. I wanted to go, I was desperate to step through the portal, to hold my son, to comfort his tears, to say, “I’m here Davie, I’m right here”. Oh my god, writing this has collapsed my lungs, my son’s death was loneliness, he was in hell. He was in hell and yet took care of those around him. He was always there for you, no matter what he was doing, no matter where he was, he gave you everything. I knew though. I knew he was saying good-bye. He told me. He told me 5 months before, called me 3 months before, he fell through the cracks of insurance red tape. He never got any medications, the doctors said he wasn’t depressed, that he was a bright young man with a promising future, just going through a rough time. I stayed in at home, wanting to give him space, hoping to give him something to look forward to… Thanksgiving. “Only 4 weeks Davie and we get to see each other” “I love you mom, more than anything in the world. I’m really looking forward to seeing you. I am lonely, I am so lonely.” “We’re almost there.”

      It was raining the night before. They were simple texts… about the weather. His last statement to me after asking if he needed a jacket was, “I think I have everything I need, thank you though”
      He’d just bought a rifle from Walmart.

      Why would the police chaplain be leaving a message on my phone.

      The panic, the race to find him, to go to him. He was love.

      Scott, I am so sorry you are going though this darkness, there really is no other way to explain it because the emotions are not documented anywhere, they are truly raw unadulterated, intangible to explantation.
      Please know you’re not alone.

      Being a larger person in today’s society is hard. But please believe me when I say, there are some people out there who truly do see who you are inside, which isn’t measured by physical size but by the very essence of you. Your words are beautiful, so which is a direct painting of the image I have of you. Football player or not, a field of wildflowers is what I got.

      Your life has changed. Your heart will be truer to yourself forever more, which will carry over into your interactions with others. Guarded yes, but much more open within yourself.

      Tears and pain rush in waves now, side swiping with incredible speed and power. Allow them to come.

      Please take care and know you can always find me here….

  48. scott says:

    Somebody who I had strong, and still growing feeling for committed suicide Sunday night hours after I rejected her. I had real feelings for her, but since she had history with a friend of mine, I didn’t want to break “guy code”. She asked me to go away with her, it had to be tonight though. I told her I couldn’t because of her and my friends history…even though every part of me screamed yes. She said he doesn’t want me, but won’t let anybody else have me. That was it. She was dead soon after. I don’t care what people say, she would at least be ALIVE if I said yes. People tell me that she would have done it down the road anyways. How the hell can anybody say that? Who’s to say in that time she couldn’t have found some type of happiness? I know I’m jot the main reason, hell not even a big reason why she’s dead. But me saying no was part of it. And I don’t know how I’m ever going to force myself.

    • Anonymous says:

      If I had said yes…. If I had listened to my heart, he would still be with me, I know that with certainty. But I didn’t…. And now he is dead. All he wanted was time with me. He was feeling lost and I was so wrapped up in my own life I couldn’t even make the flight to see him. He was my son, the love of my life, he was only 22.
      He needed someone to sit with him,to just be his friend. He was lonely.
      I’ll never forgive myself… It’s a daily choice to keep living… I need to for his younger brothers, my sons. If not for them I’d dead… It hurts to breathe, it hurts because I miss him so much. I loved him and didn’t get to say goodbye. I failed him over his last few months… Pushing our visits back and back. He couldn’t wait any longer. I don’t blame him. The pain and torment I live with I deserve, every ounce and more…. I’m so sorry Davie Boy… I love you

    • scott says:

      I don’t know if that response was out of a book, or something you are going through..bit I can definitely relate :( So now the question is HOW do I forgive myself, cause it hasn’t gotten better AT ALL the past 4 days. At times it feels worse. I’m at the point where I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. I feel like I’m a burden, or people will think I’m looking for attention. I’m not. I just don’t know how to go on with daily life. My job reminds me of her, I need to work obviously, but I’m not sure if I’m going back. Should I find another job? I think I need help, but don’t want to end up in a crazy ward the stigma never goes away. How do I get better because honestly, no fucking way I can live like this. Time time time…it’s suppose to heal everything. What ever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. All of these sayings don’t fit right now. I’m hoping for some brutal truth. Give me some hope

    • Anonymous says:

      As much as I’d like to wake from the nightmare, to rip the pages out, my response wasn’t from a book… My son took his life October 29th….. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m sorry you’re feeling the weight pressing upon your heart.

    • scott says:

      I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to offend you with all of my heart I apologize. I’ve just been so disconnected the past 4 days looking for anything that makes sense. I’m sooo sorry you went through, and obviously still are going through this. I’ve always been told when people die it changes you as a person. But for me this is different. I loved people in the past that have died, but this doesn’t make sense. I’m in a nightmare with you!! I don’t see an end. Maybe all we can do is cope. I don’t even know how yet. I wouldn’t wish where I am right now on ANYBODY. Please accept my apology. And thank you for responding.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t worry about offending me, you didn’t at all. It’s such a surreal part of life right now… It is something you’ll not ever forget… please know you’re not alone…. The next few months get more intense as reality starts setting in. Your choices will be influenced most definitely…. If anything it’ll reinforce the delicate beauty of life.
      There is nothing I can say or advise to help you through this as to this day there is nothing but to allow the emotions their freedom…. it hurts beyond any description and yet, a smile can breach through as a rainbow against the storming sky

    • scott says:

      Thank you for your honesty Anonymous. I don’t know you, And until a few days ago I never prayed. I do it morning and night now. I will add you with her tonight.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you, I will also for you

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Scott and “Anonymous” –

      Kay Redfield Jamison, in her book Night Falls Fast, wrote of the aftermath of losing a loved one to suicide: “The core of this journey has been described as an agonizing questioning, a tendency to ask repeatedly why the suicide occurred and what its meaning should be for those who are left.”

      I would add to that “agonizing questioning” the unanswerable questions you state or allude to: Would this person be alive if I had done something different? Am I in some way responsible for their death, whether through action or inaction? Am I to blame?

      Based on what I wrote in the article above, you know what I believe: No. You are not to blame. The forces of suicide are to blame. Millions of other people have been rejected or rebuffed in their bid to start a relationship, without a fatality. Millions of other children have experienced lapses in attention or time from their parents, without a fatality.

      I don’t know you or your situations, but with most people who struggle with these questions, what I learn is that they were doing the best they could with the information that they had available to them at the time, especially in the context of their circumstances at the time. They certainly could not have known what they know now. Certainly if they had known, they would have done something different. But they did not know. They couldn’t know. Suicide’s secrecy and subterfuge are only a couple of its many cruelties.

      Whatever I say here is weak compared to what you two have said to each other. Though your connection is forged between strangers, through the Internet, with only words on a lit screen as your communion, it is this kind of connection, above all, that inspires healing. Thanks to you both for sharing your journey not only with each other, but with the many others who read your words and are soothed by them.

  49. Kat says:

    I was just talking to my boyfriend today and we got on this subject. I have blamed myself for my friends suicide for a long time but my boyfriend spent the better part of an hour trying to convince me that I can’t blame myself. I don’t tell most people about it because I know that’s what they will do; “It’s not your fault” or “You did everything you could”, before I just ignored these sayings and kept things to myself but today, I don’t know why, I just decided to look into it. I googled ‘why cant I blame myself for someone’s suicide’ and clicked on this page. I read through it, I understand everything the page says, everything on this page is logical.

    I know that it isn’t logical for people to blame themselves, I understand the psychology behind these things, and in the position of someone else I would be saying ‘It’s not your fault’ as well but now being in the position of blaming myself I just find it so conflicting. Somehow I feel like I have to blame myself, even if I know it’s wrong I feel like I need this burden, I feel like if I let go of the blame then, I don’t know, I guess I feel like I’d be forgetting him or letting him down (I don’t know if forgetting/letting down is the right phrasing, its hard to explain the feeling). Is this common? Why can’t I let go? More specifically, how do I let go?

    It’s been almost two years since my friend committed suicide. I don’t dwell on it anymore, I don’t put myself in any harm, I don’t chastise myself for it or anything similar but I do blame myself and at this point it just seems like something that’s normal, it hardly crosses my mind. It didn’t seem like a problem to me because I guess it only affects me subliminally at this point except now I am being pressured to let it go and I feel at conflict again (the conflict is not a common feeling for me at all, I haven’t felt like this since around the time that it happened).

    I don’t want to attend any therapy or counseling I simply want to understand this more. Part of me is ready to let go but the other part just needs a little more convincing.

    Thanks

    • jimmy says:

      Hi Kat

      Im in a similar situation like you are. For me it was my ex girlfriend that died by suicide in April of this year. I havent been the same since. I contemplate the what ifs and if onlys. I broke up with her and tried to get bacl together only to change my mind a few days later. This whole back and forth i feel was the final straw. If only i didnt change my mind if only i would have stayed with her. Its gonna drive me nuts. I too feel like i need the burden. Like i do not ever deserve to be happy again. You said it has beem two years for you. Wow long time. I imagine that life is alot better for you now. For me its just been 3.5 months and everyday sucks. But it has gotten a little better i would say.
      My question to you is.
      How long after your friend passed were you able to try to live a normal life again?
      Did you have alot of dreams about that person?
      Did anyone come out and personally blame you?

      Regards

      Jimmy

  50. kittyparrish says:

    I met him at my sisters wedding in riviera maya 7-8 years ago…big personality. He sang Benny and the jets in a van on the way to go snorkeling. He made a toast and my sister truly laughed and smiled… One of her rare truly happy smiles. He asked my father if he could date me.

    We somehow became two people that over the years would pop in and out of each others lives but I was in a serious relationship so we were just close.

    He finally got a chance to be with me…we were both single…I thought I might need more time away from my ex and he asked for me to please not make him wait any longer.

    We dated for a bit and things were so unbelievably perfect. He was such a good boyfriend, thoughtful, loyal, kind, fun…

    He told me we would be married and i thought….of course, we make each other so happy. When my ex told me the next day that he wanted to spend his life with me it threw me. I had been with him all those years before Jason. I took a few weeks …tried to decide…. On one hand I’m in love like I never imagined possible, on the other my ex that I had been building a life with for years was now back in my life working to prove to my father that he would win me back.

    I couldn’t lead them both on …. I told Jason I loved him dearly but I had to let go. I had to see if Neil and I could have that life we had worked so hard for. Two days later I’m with his sisters outside his condo waiting for the police to tell us if he’s alive. This man I just hurt, that I still loved. He shot himself.

    I miss him so much, I’ve struggled to sleep the past couple months…. Sometimes I hate myself sometimes I think…. You lost me for two days and now I’ve lost you forever. I wish he had never met me. I wish I could wonder what he’s doing and if he’s alright. It’s so strange to have his family comfort me..they say “we were so lucky to have had what we did….and thank you for making him so happy. We’re so grateful to you…please do not blame yourself”.

    His last words to me were,”I have nothing but good thoughts about you”

    In some small part of my mind….I’ve started thinking how I wish I could disappear, check into some facility and have them make me human again. I don’t understand how I get to have a future while he does not.

  51. Rachel says:

    I just recently lost my 15 year old nephew on may 2nd of this year. He shot himself in my fiance and I bedroom. I was the first to find him and my fiance second. I’m not quite sure what to think or feel. I do know that my fiance and I have been fighting a lot lately…I know it’s because of me…I just wake up some days just hating everything. We tried to clean the carpet and stuff but the stains are still visible. I can’t sleep in the bedroom at all. We had to get rid of our bed and blankets and now we are sleeping in the living room on an air mattress. I feel like I’m stuck and can’t move on. I want to move out now but due to finances and don’t want to break our lease. I really could use some words of advice please 😐

  52. Charles e Vlad says:

    I need to tell my story of my teenage friends death . Want her death to have meaning n to help someone! She took me w her n drowned, I couldn’t sa e her, she came to me for everything. I failed her! I have almost certain proof that she committed sucide. I need help telling her story.i carry the burden of not being able to save her .no one will listen! God wants me to tell her story ! I know it !

  53. serena says:

    Thank you for posing this kind of thing. I am 11, a bit young I know, but I have started having suicidal thoughts, your posts are really helping me realize that suicide is really not worth it. I just need to fix the problems a little bit at a time.

    Some things I can’t change, like not seeing my parents allot. I blame myself for the way things are, some of my family members straight out said to my face “It’s your fault’. But that was when I was 9, since then we learned my mum had a mental disorder (Schizophrenia I think). And then there is common sense, how is domestic abuse my fault? I mean, that’s only one of the reasons I don’t see them, they never fed me properly, they smoked around me all the time, I was always chocking for no particular reason but they refused to think I was Ill…

    I’ve always felt that I will suicide before I get out of comp, I’ve never really thought of another way around it, I will only mess up and become a waste of space if I don’t.

    Then again, there is always hope. I might get through this with a little help.

    Thank You
    ~Serena

    • Anonymous says:

      You are not responsible for anyones actions . You are the child, they were supposed to be responsible for you and you were failed.The best thing you cañ do is decide to live your life to the best of your ability ,love the good people in your life and make it your AIM to cultivate happiness. Love yourself also because if you dont no one else can . Be kind and spread good feelings.The more you give the more you get x

    • Carlene Hill Byron says:

      Serena:

      1. Your mother’s mental illness is not your fault or anyone’s fault. It’s just something that happens.

      2. Blaming someone other than the abuser for domestic abuse is entirely typical. A child is not responsible for abuse among their parents, or of the children by the parents. Adults are responsible for managing their own behavior and helping children learn to behave. Children do not control the behavior of adults.

      3. I don’t see any reason to assume that you’ll “mess up” as an adult. You’re already thinking about important things and how to find a little help.

      4. Do me a favor: think about some things you might like to do on the other side of comp and what steps you’ll take now to get there. “If you don’t know a reason to live till spring, plant bulbs.” Start planting the things in your life you want to see flower as you grow. You’re getting a start with common sense and good reasoning. What’s next? Have fun charting a course (or three or six, since you’re only 11 and you have lots of time to change your mind).

    • Anonymous says:

      Serena, you are so young! My husband committed suicide 2 weeks ago today. I am in unimaginable pain, and so are my 3 kids. Please, please talk to someone.You have your whole life ahead of you. What seems to be unbearable now, may be insignificant, or at least tolerable a short time from now. I did not have an easy childhood, and thought at times it was too hard, that I wanted to escape. All those feelings passed after each crisis, and I was always glad I didn’t act on them. I thought most people feel that way from time to time. So when my husband occasionally said things after using alcohol or drugs like, “everyone would be better off without me”, or that he thought about ending his life, but was too chicken, or that he really thought about it, but how could he leave his kids, or me, I thought he wanted me to feel sorry for him so I wouldn’t be mad, or that like I said, it was just something he thought of at a moment of crisis. I feel incredibly stupid and guilty now that I blew off very clear warnings. He was on antidepressants, saw a therapist, and had been sober 38 days prior. I don’t know if my sharing this is appropriate to share with such a young girl, but of all the stories I read here i had to reach out to you. You have no idea the pain suicide causes. It is indescribable. And final. You can’t take it back, change your mind, or make someone pay and then go back to the way things were. Once it’s done, that’s it. You’ll miss out on maybe finding a soulmate, having a family of your own, of your dream job, and all sorts of other things. And even if your family is messed up and neglectful, you’d be surprised how many people care about you, and would be devastated. Please just get through to the next day and then the next. By the time you know it you might be happy. I guarantee you you will get to a better place then however you feel during a crisis, and you’ll be so happy you gave life a chance. Message me anytime-or you can talk to me here.

  54. Anonymous says:

    I lost my nephew to suicide in august. He was outgoing and an athlete. He was secretly fighting with a mental illness and quit taking his meds. Seventeen days after his suicide my boyfriend of five years committed suicide at the age of 41. He lost his wife to suicide 6 years before. He was drinking heavily the last four days before his death. I tried to stay away from him at this time cause I was still dealing with my nephews death. But I would spend the nights with him. On the last day we talked and held hands and he said he was going to quit drinking now. I was happy when I dropped him off to visit his mom and sons. He kissed me and said he loved me. He was gone just over an hour after I dropped him off. Some days are so hard cause Im still stuck in that I should of seen it coming mentality.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      “Anonymous,” I am so sorry for your losses. My heart ached as I read your post – one of those losses alone is devastating, but both, and within just weeks of each other? I hope that you are getting support from others, challenging your self-blame, and taking care of yourself.

      I hope, too, that you have checked out the site’s list of resources for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. You can find it here: http://www.speakingofsuicide.com/resources/#survivors.

  55. vicki says:

    Our 22 year old son took his life in July of 2013, I look at the date and time and yet wonder how I have come this far. Ours was a death caused by so many different drugs that a sleep doctor had been giving. He was trying to withdraw from Klonipin. This is a very bad drug. Our son wanted to escape his misery and our’s just began. He had an argument with is father earlier in the afternoon. A few hours later shoot himself. For months I felt like I floated above the ground, my mind seemed to stop working. almost like being in a fog. As my life begins to return I am left with such raw feelings, I will not get over, with hope and prayer I hope the rawness fades. Most of the family have returned to their happy lives, I still feel like an outsider looking through a glass window as life passes by. Outsiders seem to have a view that we should be over this by now, We try to push on and make decisions and yet feel as though we are missing something. Great loss. He was our youngest.

    The hardest thing is to have so many folks in the medical field look at our file and tell us how bad his medical was and yet no one will take my son’s case. The doctor needs to be reported. I can do that my self. I think it is a sickening world when doctors can give anything they want, and if it is generic you can not bring a law suit. The FDA puts black box warnings for a reason, too bad the rest of the world doesn’t respect this fact. Our doctor was not monitoring our son during his withdrawal and just let him decide when to take the drug. One day two, one day one, up and down. This would be the care he would receive during his entire care. He was given drugs for a sleep disorder by a sleep doctor that were found to be at fault for falsifying information that their drugs could be used for sleep. One being seroquel, Neurontin, Xyrem (oxysorbate). Yet his sleep doctor is handing it out like candy. One drug (xyrem) was given with Ambien and a pharmacist stopped the filling and said you cant take this together. So the Sleep doctor went around the pharmacist to the drug company and had it filled. Our son took it and got very ill. He did not die. I have been told it would have been better for our case if he did. This is a very sad thing and should never have happened.

    Now I must learn to accept this thing I can not change. Accept his course of medical treatment. And learn to forgive those who recklessly did this. I am so sorry as I read through the posting of everyone like myself who is dealing with the new way of life and trying to make sense of it. I do not have anger, I have overwhelming sadness that our son would do this. He wrote a long letter and said this will take a devastating toll on us, Oh how wrong he was, devastating doesn’t scratch the surface of pain, this is like a death sentence for us and anybody else living with death by suicide. The drug companys need to change the SSRI and BENZO information, if you are younger then 25 you are in a black box warning you need to have a care giver who you can count on to help when you cannot make a clear and level headed decision!!!!.

    Anyone reading this trust me you never have to do this. ever. I urge anyone who has taken the time to read my story to please tell someone you trust about the drugs your doctor is giving you. Dont just trust the pharmacy to print out information, as in our case Klonopin and its suicide warning is so far at the bottom of the page, one would assume that its so far down its not important, Go to FDA.org look you drug up know what you are taking and the warning for your age group. The life you save maybe your own. I learned of this after his death, if someone would have just said hey high suicide warning for 18 to 24 year olds I can assure you I would have not let him out of my sight until I got help. He told us he thought about suicide six weeks prior. We did not take him seriously, this was a very strong young man and in tip top shape. If he was thinking clearly he never would have said it. Thank you for reading my story.

  56. Rhinester says:

    One of my best friends killed herself 3 weeks ago while home for easter, she was only 22. I am so torn in my feelings so if someone could help me make sense of the I would really appreciate it.

    On one hand I feel incredibly guilty because she had told me that she was thinking about suicide and though I tried to comfort her, I never truly believed that she would do it and never really thought about it after. For as long as I’ve known her, she would have extremely emotional reactions to the smallest things but be perfectly fine an hour later so I just didn’t take her seriously. I can’t help but regret that I didn’t check in with her more often (we lived in different countries).

    On the other hand I know she had a tremendous amount of support from friends living closer to her, her boyfriend, her counsellor, and her family. Everyone devotes themselves to helping her. She had a home, financial security, and a loving environment. She spent the day of her death with her siblings. And this makes me angry. People did everything they could for her and she killed herself knowing perfectly well that her siblings would find her. She also knew the amount of pain she would cause because her father killed himself when she was very young.

    I also feel a very deep sadness that will suddenly overtake me. Sometimes I forget what happened and feel normal and then I’ll remember a moment between us and I feel like I can’t breathe. Memories will come up except now it almost feels like they didn’t happen because I’m the only one who will remember them.

    I feel like saying that she isn’t at fault at all takes away autonomy from her decision. The last thing she did on earth and it wasn’t truly her action?

  57. Jan says:

    We lost our Beautiful Son in October 2014 x we have struggled so much as a family , a man that had a beautiful partner , sister , mum , dad , amazing loved friends x and yes you go through this at first x the best thing is to realise , at their point , there is no way back , they don’t want to hurt us , they just love us too much x we can only leave a legacy for them to try and help others before they are taken by the black hole in their minds x

  58. Anonymous says:

    Stacey his could you let these anonymous posts be made public? They are terrible!

  59. Anonymous(1) says:

    No, suicide isn’t your fault – take this in whatever way you like, it’s THEIR fault for killing themselves. Unless the person influencing the suicide is holding the gun to your head it’s YOUR FAULT. Your pretty much saying that rape/murder is the victims fault if you’re saying that suicide is the bully’s or whatever’s fault.

    • Anonymous(2) says:

      No wonder you answered anonymously. What a jerk you are to post on this site like you did. Take your uncaring and insensitive ass to another message board to hurt others.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Anonymous(2),

      I am not sure if you are angry at Anonymous(1) for blaming people who die by suicide for their deaths, or if you have perhaps misread the comment to mean that suicide is a loved one’s fault.

      Frankly, the original comment is confusing. I had to read it twice to realize that the words “it’s YOUR FAULT” are directed at the person who dies by suicide.

      While I myself do not feel blame or anger for people who die by suicide, I know that a great many people do. I think it is important for those voices to be heard, if only to enable opportunities for those voices to change or to be balanced out by others.

      Please see my comment immediately below for my take on whether the person who dies by suicide is to blame for their death. (Short answer: No!)

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Anonymous(1),

      Many people share your sentiments: they place the blame for a person’s suicide squarely on the person who died by suicide. I agree with you that others do not cause a person’s suicide (unless, say, they hand a loaded gun to a person who they know is hearing voices commanding them to end their life immediately).

      But I also do not blame the person who died by suicide.

      To blame the suicide victim would be akin to blaming someone for dying of cancer (“Why did he let those tumors invade his body?”), heart disease (“She should have told her clogged arteries to unclog!”), or even murder (“Why didn’t he stay home instead of going out, where he made himself vulnerable to being shot?”)

      In reality, the people who die by suicide are just as much suicide’s victims as those left behind. Their cancer might be hopelessness. Their heart disease might be a broken heart. Their murderer is their mind.

      The only entity to blame for suicide is suicide itself, as well as its accomplices: depression, trauma, stress, or other forces that twist the survival instinct inside out.

      People who die by suicide or attempt suicide deserve our compassion, not blame.

      Yes, suicide devastates those left behind. It creates untold problems. It hurts. People understandably are angry.

      I myself am terribly angry at suicide, rather than the people whose lives it claims.

    • Jan says:

      Obviously , you have never had to endure the suffering of this , and I’m thankful for that , so spare some consideration of the families that have suffered .

  60. Jem says:

    My husband took his own life 3 months ago and i’m coming out of the shock, now i’m constantly thinking ‘why didn’t i do things differently?’ He was scaring my kids and i and i decided to stay at my sisters nearby, but i couldn’t contact her so i ended up at my dad’s 3 hours away. I let my husband speak to the kids but i refused to talk to him. Then 4 days later he was gone. He wasn’t well, but he was trying. How i wished i had just talked to him. I’m not an angry person, i wasn’t mad at him, but we couldn’t be around his behaviour. If only i’d been closer by. I miss him so much it aches. I’m going mad feeling like the more i think about what i could have done, someone’s going to say it’s been a mistake, it’s not true. The easter holidays are nearly here, it’s unbearable without him. So lonely, but then without him i just want to be alone.

  61. Anonymous says:

    My son took his life 4 1/2 months ago…. I know cannot forgive myself. When the gravity and reality of what has happened washes over me the pain is so great, the knowledge that he was in so much pain and I didn’t fly up to be with him when he asked for help – thinking we can make it to Thanksgiving – pushing it back… one day at a time… the reward for making to Thanksgiving would be we would be together…. what a fool I was… how selfish of me…. I cannot live with this… I want my son back… pleeeease… I’m so sorry

    • Anonymous(1) says:

      To put it bluntly, it’s not your fault. You didn’t influence his suicide, and I’m guessing he didn’t inform you that he was suicidal. If this hurts you, I’m sorry – but the truth hurts sometimes.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Anonymous(1),

      Even when a person tells friends or family about his or her suicidal thoughts, that does not mean that the death is the loved ones’ fault.

      I am not sure why you think absolution would hurt someone who feels guilty about a loved one’s death. Is it that you think it would hurt them to blame their loved one?

      I addressed in a reply above that I don’t believe any person deserves the blame for suicide. Not the person’s loved ones. Not the person who died.

      The forces of suicide itself deserve the blame.

  62. Rose D says:

    Thank You Stacey, my baby sister took her own life at 14, 5 months ago. My grief is only outweighed by my regret and self blame. This really helped to put my feelings into perspective. Thank you so much

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Rose,

      I am so sorry about the death of your sister, and so recently, too. I am grateful that the article provides you with some solace, however small in the face of your loss. May you continue to question the accusations and regrets that your mind directs at you!

  63. ashley says:

    I was really sad but this made me feel way better thank you… My friend and my sister were dating and they broke up so my friend got sad…and one thing leads to another…so thank you! I write lots of poems about anti suicide and I love to help people get better :)

  64. Bernadette says:

    Thank you. I was trying to find some comforting words for a work colleague who lost a friend to suicide last year. She blames herself as she was meant to meet with her and cancelled, the next day her friend committed suicide. I have told her before, she wouldn’t have changed anything but I hope from reading this, she will realise she was not to blame. Thank you.

  65. Scott says:

    I think it could be helpful if we taught the masses helpful things like reflective listening, empathy, interpersonal communication,etc. While this wouldn’t help all I think often others have no clue how to help people even well before the end.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Scott, I completely agree. Our schools teach topics that the vast majority of adults do not use in day-to-day life, but students do not get to learn the skills that would make the most difference: communication skills and coping skills. How different would the world be if our schools prized these skills as much as they do algebra and chemistry?

  66. Ray Cooper says:

    Thank you for all the insight that you are providing here . I recently lost a very close friend to suicide . She had several attempts , and finally succumbed . After years of living with major depression and being on meds , counseling she made her choice to die .
    I took her passing very hard . Since she was very close to me and we were exes I had assumed a type of guardian role with her . I felt as though I failed to look after her and ” didn’t bring her home safely ” . Resources like yours helped me get to a comfortable place with these thoughts , and realize that ultimately we have to look after ourselves .

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      You’re most welcome, Ray. I’m glad the information here has been of help to you.

      And I’m very sorry both about your friend’s suicide, and about your feelings of responsibility and blame. It is good that you have arrived at a “comfortable place” with those feelings.

      In case you are plagued by such thoughts and feelings again, I hope you will keep in mind that the forces of suicide can be just too strong for any one person to disarm. It is not your fault that your friend died by suicide. It is not your friend’s. The blame belongs to the unmerciful forces of suicide.

  67. Anonymous says:

    Excellent

  68. Anonymous says:

    Always remember this.

  69. Anonymous says:

    I’m so very glad that I came across this… A year ago from this past April 28th, my younger brother took his life……This was his second attempt… He was going through a divorce, drinking so very heavily, depressed, sad, angry and just lost…. I was always there when he needed me, and even times he didn’t want me there.. I’ve been suffering with quilt, because the night he took his life, my mom and I were there.. We had learned that his by then xwife, was seeing someone else…. And not wanting him to be alone with his boy’s, and one of them tell him, we felt it best to hear it from us…Probably 15 minutes later, he ran up stairs and shot himself with a shotgun…. I relive that entire night, and remember every single thing said or done… It doesn’t ease or go away…. And yes I feel quilty for telling him that horrible night… Do I believe if it hadnt been that night, that he still would have done it another time??? Yes I do, but it wouldn’t have been that night!!! I still have a hard time with his death, hearing the shot, being there when it happened, knowing what I told him and him not being here anymore.. I miss him so much, some days I think I could go crazy from the pain of him not here… It’s hard for others to understand, especially if they’ve never been through it… I tell my husband I’m sorry that I have my hard times with it sometimes, that there’s no way he can comprehend what I went through, and still going through.. I pray one day it gets easier, and that I can think of him without being so sad, angry and lost without him… Maybe the quilt will go away too….Thats what I pray!!!

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      I am so sorry for your loss. What traumatic events, not only to have lost your brother, which is already traumatic, but to have been there with him and to have heard the shot that ended his life. It is natural, and terribly painful, for people to blame themselves after the death of a loved one, even if that death was not suicide. That your loss was due to suicide can open up those feelings of self blame even more. Please remember not to believe everything you think. Suicide is much bigger than any one person or event.

      Thank you for sharing your experience. Sadly, I know there are many others, countless others in fact, who can relate. Have you considered joining a group for people who have lost a loved one to suicide? There, you would find others who have traveled a similar journey and are traveling it still. Please check out my Resources section for surviving suicide loss, at http://www.speakingofsuicide.com/resources/#survivors.

  70. Sandra says:

    I lost my daughter to suicide in April, 2014. She had moved back home so we could help her, over a 4year period she refused help and became a total drama queen. She alienated everyone. Her siblings, her daughters, grandchildren and us, her parents.I didn’t know or realize how much she wanted to die. I’ve thought or said all of the things that you mentioned. I cried and mourned her ever since, yet, left here to clean up the mess she left me. I alternated between deep sadness and at times a madness for taking her life.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Sandra. What you have described sounds excruciating on so many levels. The swing you described from sadness to anger is one of the common, if painful, legacies of suicide. I hope this post was of some help to you.

      As I just replied to another comment by someone who also lost a family member to suicide, I hope you will check out the Resources section on this site for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. It’s at http://www.speakingofsuicide.com/resources/#survivors.

  71. Max says:

    Thanks for this article. My friend just committed suicide 2 days ago. There were no signs whatsoever other than his personality. He has been an alcoholic for years and always talks about the fact that he doesn’t have a girlfriend or friends to hang out with but he always joked about it.

    I had been thinking for the longest time, “Invite him out for a few drinks.” I have been meaning to but school, work, everything, I just haven’t had time or I forgot. I never in my wildest dreams even thought he was thinking about suicide because we get along so well at work and laugh and joke with each other. How could I not know he was dying inside?

    I should have seen the alcoholism as a way to escape the pain. But I drink too to let steam off on a stressful day. So I just saw his overdrinking as something of a crutch to deal with stress, not as an outlet to prevent himself from killing himself. He would show up at work at times and I knew he had been drinking on the job, but I just thought “that’s the way he is.” I never thought of it as him hurting.

    I know it’s not my fault or my coworkers fault. I just feel that somehow we failed him. I feel like if I had just connected with him outside of work and really dug deep, I could have shared in his pain and maybe given him relief.

    I know that’s a bad way of thinking. It’s just hard not to think that out of 20 friends at work, not one of them could stop him. Anyway, thanks for the article again, it has really helped me cope with this.

  72. Anonymous says:

    So many people say if we only knew..My daughter was having a very bad morning long story..She came to me and said “help me mommy help me I want to die” I knew how she was feeling and still failed her that last day…

  73. Dan says:

    A man that I fired a few months ago, because of a substance abuse problem that was affecting his work, committed suicide last week. At one time I called him friend; he was even part of my wedding a few years ago. I am struggling with blaming myself for being part of his reasoning for suicide. I didn’t reach out to him after firing him because it didn’t seem appropriate or wise from a business standpoint. Now I am wishing that I had even though I don’t know if it would have been received.

    At any rate, I appreciate your comments in this article, and I believe it has helped me better understand the insignificance of my role in all of it. I don’t think I will ever understand, but I will do things differently if there is ever a next time.

  74. Sandra Hollis says:

    All of this is true. There are no words to express my pain. I found my daughter dead in her bed, and somehow can’t erase it from my mind. I do realize that one day at a time is the only way to go. Thanks for helping all of us.

  75. Anonymous says:

    I’m not a stranger to both sides of suicide. I had a very unwell ex partner. Her entire life reads like a horror story. Abuse and neglect. 3 times she tried to kill herself and thankfully I got to her before it was too late. She spent 3 long stays in a mental hospital which didn’t help as she would not believe she was sick. I did all I knew how. And I studied so I could understand better and be more helpful. Sadly our kids were also suffering as a result of the attention she required hence they were missing out. I’m only one person. We separated. Since then she and my ex Wife have decided to punish me for no good reason. They’re both denying my legal rights to the normal 50/50 custody of our kids. This has left me angry, sad, self blaming. What makes it worse is 2 fold. 1) I’ve suffered an irreparable spinal injury that will continue to get worse with time and can’t be operated on. 2) my parents who have always been very close to me have played a negative role in this incident with words they spoke to my ex wife who shared them with my ex partner. So my normal support network has made my problem worse. That has seen me isolate myself from the world and not spend time with my family whom I normally speak to daily and see a couple of times a week. There has certainly been nights and even whole days that I’ve spent in tears on my own. I’ve got a large life insurance policy that would provide my 3 kids with a great financial start to their lives. I’ve sacrificed all my dreams for my kids. I was a pro golfer and basket ball player when I was 17 with aspirations of travelling the world playing golf. Instead I choose to be a dad. And with an unstable mother I had to make huge sacrifices. I don’t regret my choice. My kids are my world and have been since they were born. This issue is now several months old and I spend most of my time alone. Some days when I’ve seen the kids and then they leave I can become extremely emotional. To the point where I think it would be easier and better all round if I just disappeared. My kids could receive my final sacrifice. A start to life that they deserve. My kids especially my daughter as she’s like me, intuitive, notice that I’m happy when I see them but I’m sure my daughter sees my tears as she walks away. It’s a ridiculous situation caused by 2 overly emotional and mentally unstable women have caused illegally. Being unable to work, or play sport any longer I devoted my life to my children. So for me this is hell. Those I care about most are not being allowed to see me as they all wish to. I’m isolated with almost no one to talk to. No one apart from my shrink understands. He texts me regularly to check on me. I don’t fear dying. I’m almost looking forward to it. Living like this is what truly hurts. I’m ok most of the time. When I start to focus on my sadness and the reality of how long it could be before it’s sorted in court which I can’t afford anyway. It feels to me that giving my kids my final sacrifice that I can make for them so they can have a better financial start in life is the better idea. I’m not afraid and I would die happy knowing I’d provided my kids a future. Sorry I can’t write anymore

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      “Anonymous,” my heart goes out to you. Your situation sounds deeply painful, and it is no wonder that you are feeling alone, sad, and desperate. It sounds like you’ve also lost hope.This is where suicidal thoughts can cause or profit from tunnel vision. Is there truly no hope? From what you’ve written, it sounds like you do still have visitation with your children. (Sadly, many parents do not.) It sounds like there are still matters to be decided by the courts. It sounds like you still have a good relationship with your children. These are all avenues for hope. I don’t mean to diminish the intense pain of your situation. It sounds devastating. But I do mean to point out areas where reason for hope remains.

      Irrational thinking also feeds into suicidal thoughts. Here, I will be blunt and say that it sounds irrational that money would make up for the loss of a father, no matter how maligned you may feel. I think if you ask adults whose father died by suicide when they were children, they would almost certainly say that no amount of money could make up for being fatherless as a child, particularly (but certainly not exclusively) when the loss arises from suicide.

      In addition to losing their father, your children would also inherit the legacy of suicide if you were to take your own life. That is, your own suicide could increase the risk for suicide in your children. For more on this, I highly recommend the book Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide, by Linda Sexton. Her mother, the poet Ann Sexton, died by suicide when Linda Sexton was an adolescent. Linda Sexton was painfully aware that her mother had passed down the legacy of suicide to her, and she was determined not to do the same to her children. Unfortunately, she did attempt suicide several times. Fortunately, she survived. Her story describes well not only the suicidal process, but the effects on children.

      I have a couple other recommendations for you. One is to check out men’s rights and father’s rights groups. Be wary of the commiseration and negativity that can overwhelm such sites at times, looking instead for the nuggets of information that can help you advocate for yourself in your custody battle.

      Another recommendation is to check out a few more posts on this site:

      Letter from a Therapist to a Suicidal Person

      Are You Thinking of Killing Yourself?

      Talking Back to Suicidal Thoughts

      Coping Statements for Suicidal Thoughts

      Please also check out this site’s Resources for people who think of suicide. It contains information about hotlines, online support, and more.

      Good luck to you, and please feel free to check in with an update!

  76. Stac says:

    As an attempt survivor, I’d like to open a window into my suicidal thinking for those of you that have lost someone to suicide.
    I told no one of my plans. People had known that I struggled with depression, but they had no idea the depths that I had sunken into. I didn’t want anyone to stop me. I wanted the pain, the overwhelming emotions of hopelessness, helplessness and loneliness to END.

    People would ask “do you have plans to hurt yourself?”, “are you suicidal?”, “are you thinking of killing yourself?” and the closest answer to the truth that i would give anyone was “well, I think about it a lot, but I’m not planning anything”. And then I would change the subject, fake a smile and sigh, and come up with some lame line like “well, that’s life though, right? We could be in Iraq!” Black humor is my go-to deflector to the reality of my situation.

    More than likely, unless you interrupted your love one in their attempt or unless they actually came to you for help, the suicide would not have been stopped. This is only my opinion, but in talking with other attempt survivors, this is what i have heard from them, also.

    My heart goes out to those on this forum that are suffering a great loss. I hope that others like me will continue to speak out so that there can be understanding, less guilt and less blame for those left behind.
    We don’t mean to hurt anyone. We only wanted our suffering to end. It sounds selfish, but please remember, people like me are truly not in a good place mentally and at the time, it really did seem to me as my only option after years and years of trying to “feel better”.

    xo

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Stac, thank you so much for sharing your experience. You do a great service when you provide for others a window into a suicidal person’s thought processes. You have demonstrated well how someone in the throes of a suicidal mindset may be impervious to others’ efforts to help and may even hide their need for help. This is not the suicidal person’s fault. It is fault of the illness, stress, and trauma that has gripped the person’s mind, closing the person off to hope, help, and the possibility of healing.

      The question of hindsight bias becomes even more powerful if the suicidal person hid the extent of his or her suffering, hopelessness, and irrational thoughts. How can people know what someone specifically does not want them to know?

      Even when a suicidal person asks for help from others, loved ones may not be able to prevent the suicide. Ambivalence is a hallmark of suicidal thinking. The person wants to die, and the person wants to live. The person wants help, and the person wants to be left alone. There is no logic to this chaos, only devastating unknowns.

      Thank you again for sharing. Your words give power and healing to strangers you will never come to know. That is a generous gift!

  77. Jill bishop says:

    Thank you it’s been 3 1/2 years since I lost my sister and still I blame myself but try to remember it was depression I do wish I knew then what I know now but suicide was unthinkable. I did the best I could at the time with the information I had. I know that but need to accept it in my heart I think. Until then I will continue to try and educate and make people aware and try and get rid of the stigma. I want people to know the signs and to feel ok to talk about and to even be able to say the word suicide. I asked my Sister the day I lost her if she would ever do anything to hurt herself because I could not even say suicide She replied no I would never do anything to hurt myself. I think if I would have said are you thinking of suicide she may have said yes. I think she did not lie to me because she was in such pain and felt no I’m not going to hurt myself but stop the pain. I would give anything to go back to that day and say are you thinking of suicide.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Jill, thank you for sharing your experience. I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. Your comments are heartbreaking, because on the one hand you understand that depression was to blame for your sister’s suicide death, and you understand that you did the best you could with the information you had at the time. On the other hand, regret and self blame tell you that you should have used the word “suicide” instead of “hurt yourself,” and that if only you had used the word “suicide,” your sister might still be alive. I would encourage you to consider that the outcome may have been the same regardless of your choice of words. Really, you can’t know. Nobody can.

      When we say we deeply regret our actions and want to go back and change them, I think what we are really saying is that we would do anything to have our loved one back. There is a subtle difference. When we regret our actions, our self blame is the focus. When we reject self blame, our grief is the focus. People can get stuck in regret and self blame. In that paralysis, grief awaits attention – loving attention, really – and healing. Of course, grief can never be erased or truly resolved, but people can accept their grief, treat themselves tenderly, and open themselves to compassion.

      The tricky thing, though, is that grief hurts. It really, really hurts – even more than self blame. So getting stuck in self blame (as well as blame of others) can be a reprieve from fully grieving.

      I am reminded of two sayings: “The only way out is through,” and “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Self blame and regret are the stuff of hell.

      May you keep going!

  78. Anonymous says:

    I lost my 21year old on Feb 27th . He had been having suicidal thoughts and suffered from severe depression. I blame myself. As his mom, I should have been able to help. I am really struggling with it.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      “Anonymous,” I am so sorry about the loss of your son. With only two or so months since his death, the wound is still so raw.

      As time passes, I hope you can discover some compassion for yourself. Just as your son was the victim of depression, you were its victim, too. It took your son from you. His depression is what deserves the blame.

      You say you should have been able to help. I totally understand how you could feel that way, especially as a mother. But…consider that suicides occur even in locked psychiatric hospital units, even while the person is being constantly observed by staff. If mental health professionals in locked psychiatric units are themselves sometimes impotent in the face of suicide, then how can you be expected to have done better, to have known more, to have prevented what others could not prevent?

      I hope you will consider those questions at some point, when you are ready to.

      My best wishes to you in your journey of grief.

  79. Anonymous says:

    It was very touching reading this Thank you

  80. Heather says:

    I lost my son at 17. It happened on Oct 12, 2012. I still have enormous feelings of “what if… had I done…” The most terrible part is that I thought he was sleeping all day, which he always did, but instead by the time I discovered that he was gone… it had been 16 hours and rigirmortis had set in. I feel AWFUL. The memories haunt me everyday. I have done therapy, they don’t understand. Unless you have lost someone like this you don’t have a clue. He was mentally ill. He had been hospitalized so many times that I can’t even count, and don’t want to. He took all of his meds. ALL OF THEM!! WHY didn’t he come talk to me?… because I was asleep? I don’t know… won’t know until I am back with him. Every single day is a struggle.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your son, and for your suffering. Try to have compassion for yourself as you would for a friend that had the same experience. good luck!

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Heather, I am so sorry for the loss of your son, for all the troubles that preceded his death, for the trauma of finding him, and for the suffering that continues for you still. I hope in time that you will be able to put the blame where it belongs, and that would be on the illness that enabled suicide to occur.

      Have you tried EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy)? It was developed specifically for people who have endured a trauma. It has evidence of effectiveness and may help you move past the traumatic memories of having found him, as well as the painful questions of “what if….”

      Cognitive behavioral therapy also may be helpful. It’s important to be able to talk back to self-blame and to recognize that what it says may not (and usually is not) true.

      Good luck to you!

    • Marie says:

      Dear Heather I am SO sorry for your loss. I too lost a child, my daughter was 42 and had bipolar disorder. She left us on 1 February 2013 through “self-death”. It is hell, I found her hanging after arriving home after work. Please, please do not blame yourself. I used to then someone said perhaps you could have stopped your daughter on THAT day, but if she was really going to do it, she would do it another day. We are just humans and cannot control “life”. The pain is awful, it is terrible and I too find each and every day a struggle. My thoughts and warm hugs are with you, Heather.

  81. alfredmjones says:

    Stacey, it’s odd that you hit on the one thing *I* have to acknowledge “I have no control, whatever, on the people who visit my forum.” Support for them in their current circumstances, attention when they want and sometimes when they don’t. Trying to always “be there” when they want to talk. But I know there’s very little I can really do if they decide to “go through with it”.
    Anytime one of the members goes on to suicide, of course there are questions “Could I have said something different?” but all too often the response has to be “No…” I’ve done my best to suggest alternatives while respecting their mental and physical anguish, but they’ve reached the limit that they’re willing to endure.
    Whether someone is in the fits of suicidal depression or has logically decided that the only way to end this pain is to “leave” all I can do is wish them the best and pray.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Alfred, thanks for sharing your insights. You describe well the powerful ways that someone from afar (such as yourself, moderating an online group) can help someone who is suicidal while recognizing ultimately the limitations of such help. I am wondering if you have seen this post on this site: http://www.speakingofsuicide.com/2013/06/21/you-cant-do-everything/. It describes, too, the limitations we face when trying to help someone who is suicidal.

      Best wishes to you on your forum!

  82. Anne DiNoto says:

    Good topic. I lost my uncle in 2006 in his 48th birthday. I had bought a card but didn’t mail it so wondered if I had reached out to him on his birthday before he died if it would have made a difference. Thankfully I’m further along in my healing to understand.
    My story in The Boston Globe, April 20, 2014—scroll down to breaking the silence http://bit.ly/1rmePYF

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Anne, thank you for your comment and for sharing the link to the article that features your advocacy for suicide prevention. I was saddened to read that in addition to your uncle who died in 2006, his brother had died by suicide 25 years earlier. I am very sorry for your losses.

      Your regrets about the birthday card are so poignant, common, and understandable. With every person’s death there are multitudes with similar regrets – “I should have called when I thought about it,” “what if I had invited him to dinner,” etc. The reality is that suicide is so big that it is rare that one small thing can change someone’s mind.

      A friend of mine died by suicide in high school. Just about everyone who knew him (and even some who didn’t) was convinced that if we’d done just one thing different, our friend would still be alive. I think we were all trying to apply logic to a distinctly illogical act, and to assert the control that I refer to in my article.

      Thanks again for sharing, and keep up the good fight!

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