Bereaved by suicide

Bereavement by suicide can impact us in different ways and may affect our physical and mental health. It is important to remember you are not alone and there is help available.

When a loved one is lost to injury or illness, family and friends generally rally around to provide support. However, following suicide, friends and family, and the community often do not react in the same manner. People bereaved may be left feeling isolated or shamed due to people’s hurtful or uninformed comments or actions.

When someone tragically takes their own life, those left behind, the bereaved, often experience a very complicated form of grief caused by a combination of feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Grief is experienced and expressed in unique ways by each individual. Many of these reactions relate to the person no longer physically being in our life however some may relate to the fact that the death was by suicide. It is important to be able to discuss all of these reactions openly and honestly in order to fully understand and process your loss.

Have you or someone you know lost someone to suicide?

Below are some reactions those bereaved by suicide may experience after their loss.

  • Shock, numbness, denial
  • Searching for reasons ‘why’
  • Guilt
  • Anger/blame
  • Despair
  • Stigma and shame
  • Loneliness/disconnection
  • Isolation
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Sleep disturbance

If you have experienced the suicide of a friend or loved one, it is important to find support to accept what has happened, process your grief and find ways to learn to live with your loss. Suicide bereavement, like any loss, will take time and each person will respond differently and require different types of support. Some suggestions for additional support include:

  1. Ask for help - talk to a counsellor/psychologist, a helpline like Lifeline, friends and family, online support groups, or a GP to find comfort, support and ways to cope.
  2. Take time out – it’s okay to give yourself time out from the pain you are experiencing.
  3. Stay connected and accept support from friends, family and support networks.
  4. Honour the deceased person– talk about them, share memories/photos or practice any spiritual or cultural activities that are meaningful to you.
  5. Stay healthy – eat well, hydrate, exercise and get quality sleep.
  6. Consider joining a suicide bereavement group – sharing your experience with others who have been through similar loss might be helpful for you to connect and feel you are not alone.

It can be very difficult to know what to do and how to cope, but help is available. Below are some places to go for information and support. If life is in danger, please call 000.


For Crisis Support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24/7) or via text (12pm-midnight AEST) on 0477 13 11 14