Suicide: Supporting Others on the Path to Healing

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    couple comforting one another on temple grounds

    Photo illustration by Carrie Leona Ryan

    When 15-year-old Natalie Thorpe committed suicide, countless loved ones were left trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces. Her mother describes her grief in an article in this month’s issue of the Ensign and Liahona: “The agony lingered throughout the day and tormented me throughout the night. It was relentless.”

    When someone chooses to end her life, her loved ones are left to face a complicated and painful grieving process.

    Their experience may include:

    • Feelings of guilt, confusion, abandonment, hopelessness, or anger.

    • Unanswered questions.

    • Withdrawing from others in shame.

    • Fear of judgment or blame.

    Although you can’t take their pain away completely, there are many ways you can support them on their path to healing.

    Here are ways you can help:

    • Be compassionate and understanding.

    • Offer to help them, even with simple tasks.

    • Accompany them in activities.

    • Be patient, listen, and accept the feelings they share.

    • Don’t offer false assurances like “It’ll be OK,” “It could be worse,” “Time heals all wounds,” or “I understand.”

    • Don’t try to answer their unanswerable questions.

    • Reassure them that they are not responsible.

    • Talk to them about their loved one the same way you would talk about someone who died in another manner.

    • Offer to help them find additional resources for grieving (counseling, support groups, etc.).

    “It took me a few years to realize just how much I was helped by my brothers and sisters in the Church,” Natalie’s mother said about her daughter’s suicide. “I was nursed back to health and cared for until I could stand on my own.”

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