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The ripple effect of suicide

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog mentions suicide and may be upsetting in nature. If you need to talk to someone after reading this article, call the Samaritans FREE on 116 123, 24/7

Suicide. A word that when most of us hear it makes you feel uncomfortable and sad. Knowing that someone has been lost to poor mental health and leaving behind people questioning and asking “could more have been done?” “I didn’t see any signs.” “But they always seemed so happy.”

Having experienced firsthand the effects suicide can have on a family, I know the impact it has many years later.

The shame, the deep sadness that never goes and the ‘what ifs.’

From the outside it seemed perfect

Both the suicides I have experienced within my family have been males within their late 40’s. From the outside they had what most people want – a loving family, good job, nice home and were liked by so many people. But that still wasn’t enough…

As I was only a baby when the first suicide occurred, I wasn’t aware of the full impact and ripple effect this had on the family until I was older. The sadness whenever a picture was found of them or the tears that fell on their birthday – of them not being there to celebrate. I just always thought they missed them (which of course they did). Not that the truth of why they weren’t with us anymore was being kept from us and that maybe it was the secret of keeping that from us, that made it even harder.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the second suicide happened that the full understanding and the conversations started around the first, that everything came to light. I will always remember that sinking feeling you feel when you find out that someone has completed suicide. That sadness and worry for those closest to them. How you are going to be able to support and help them through this time.

The relief of talking

All those years of grief and the loss bottled up was finally able to be opened up and shared. You almost saw the relief and stress of not having to pretend anymore leave their bodies. But why did it take that to happen to be able to talk openly about why someone wasn’t with us anymore? The stigma, the shame – or was it to protect us?…

Over the years, more open conversations have happened and more happy times from the past have been shared. But this has taken many years.

I often think, if they were struggling now, would the outcome of been any different? Would they be here now? Seeing their children, grandchildren growing up… Unfortunately this is something we will never know.

Suicide doesn’t just affect the person at the centre, it affects everyone around them – in many cases for years or forever. This can impact relationships with family, friends, work colleagues or complete strangers if the story is shared.

The only thing I ask is that if you need help with your mental health, please reach out. There is no shame in asking for help. There are so many ways of doing this: speak to a friend or family member, a charity who is trained in offering support or signposting, your GP or Health Professional.

Support

If someone’s life is at risk or you do not feel like you can keep someone else safe, please call 999 or take them to your nearest A&E. Don’t leave them, keep them safe.
Follow this link for Crisis information.

If you need emotional support, take note of the following FREE numbers:

Visit our help and support pages for resources, signposting, and information about our 1-2-1 and group mental health services.

Guest blogger:

Huge thanks to our blogger, who preferred to write anonymously to protect the identity of family members.

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