The survivors of any death need comfort, support, and trusted listeners with whom they can discuss their grief. The stigma of suicide and the shame, guilt, and blame that people feel can isolate suicide survivors in their grief. Many survivors find their relief in support groups, where they can voice their feelings and learn from the experience of others. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Coping strategies vary from community to community and from person to person. Common coping strategies include, but are not limited to:
- Talk-Talk-Talk. Share openly what has happened. The unknown is most times more frightening to youth than the awful truth.
- Encourage students to talk openly about the feelings they experience. Many feel that they are the only ones who are feeling emotions they perceive to be “irrational.”
- Remind them that it is okay to ask for help. Anyone who was close to the victim is now in a higher risk group than they were before. For many people, youth and adults, a death in their community will trigger emotions from a past death close to them or personal feelings of hopelessness or helplessness.
- Create an in-school support group. There should be a group for students and another for adults. The student group may be facilitated by a student, but must have an adult advisor present. Support groups have been found to be the most effective in assisting people in their grief and recovery from loss. Knowing that others are experiencing the same emotions and thoughts as oneself is a powerful healing tool.
- Spend time with family and friends. Do NOT isolate yourself or allow anyone you know to isolate themselves. Get involved and stay involved in activities.
- Contact your local churches and mental health associations to provide additional assistance to the school counselors and to the school staff. Consider the importance of spirituality in your life.
- Share with school personnel and students that while most people experience the “typical” stages of grief, we do not all experience them in the same order or time frame. Every person is an individual and reacts uniquely to each situation.
- Allow for “down time” for students and school personnel. Many times we, as a society, are very capable of taking care of others and not so good at taking care of ourselves.
- Volunteer - It is a method through which you can give of yourself.
Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program www.yellowribbonsd.org