Survivors of suicide loss

I saw the movie “A Star is born” few days ago and honestly, I’ve been raking my brain around it. I felt so sad and sorry for Jackson Maine and worse for Ally. I couldn’t comprehend how she felt seeing her husband hung in their garage. 

When she was told it was not her fault, that it was his fault. 

He committed suicide.

I was left with three major thoughts from the movie.

One, he was suffering big time. He had been suffering from an early stage in his life and his ability to love her and help her and support her was out of the world. They say, broken people break people. Despite his pain, he was able to love. 

In the song ‘Shallow’ he sang with Ally, an excerpt from the lyrics goes this way  

Tell me something girl, 

Are you happy in this modern world? 

Or do you need more?

Is there something else you’re searching for?

 

I’m falling

In all the good times I find myself

Longing for change

And in the bad times I fear myself

 

Tell me something, boy

Aren’t you tired trying to fill that void?

Or do you need more?

Ain’t it hard keeping it so hardcore?

 

Two, the question: Was their love, or his love for her, or her love for him not enough for him to stay? From the movie, they had such a good thing. Was it not enough to keep going?

Three, was she responsible for his action? Did she have a fault at all? How could she not see his suicide as a reflection of who she was?

 

I don’t want to talk about him, I want to talk about her. She was the one left behind, to live every day with the memories, the what ifs and the maybes and the– could-haves and countless regrets that she was not even responsible for. 

 

When a loved one dies by suicide, overwhelming emotions can leave you reeling. Your grief might be heart wrenching. At the same time, you might be consumed by guilt- wondering if you could have done something to prevent your loved one’s death. A loved one’s suicide can trigger intense emotions. Disbelief and emotional numbness might set in. you might think that your loved one’s suicide couldn’t possibly be real. You might be angry with your loved one for abandoning you or leaving you with a legacy of grief- or angry with yourself or others for missing clues about suicidal intentions. You might replay “what if’ and “if only” scenarios in your mind, blaming yourself for your loved one’s death. You might be gripped by sadness, loneliness or helplessness. You might have a physical collapse or even consider suicide yourself. Many people try to make some sense out of the death, or try to understand why their loved one took his or her life. But, you’ll likely always have some unanswered questions. You might wonder why your relationship wasn’t enough to keep your loved one from dying by suicide. 

 

Grief is a universal experience all human being encounter. Suicide, however, has been described as a death like no other…and it truly is. Death by suicide stuns with soul-crushing surprise, leaving family and friends not only grieving the unexpected death, but confused and lost by this haunting loss.

Despite science supporting a neurobiological basis for mental illness, suicide is still shrouded by stigma. Much of the general public believes that death by suicide kis shameful and sinful. Others consider it a ‘choice that was made’ and blame family members for its outcome. And then there are people who was unsure how to reach out and support those who have lost a loved one to suicide, and simply avoid the situation out of ignorance. Whether the reason, it is important to note that the underlying structure of grief for survivors of suicide loss is intractably complicated. 

When someone dies by suicide, research shows that at least 6 people are intimately traumatized by the death. Those who are directly affected include immediate family members, relatives, neighbors, friends, fellow students and/or co-workers. And because 90% of people who die by suicide have a psychological disorder, mental health clinicians are also included as a survivor of suicide loss.

From the nearly 800,000 suicides reported from 1986 through 2010 and using the 6 survivors per suicide estimate, it is believed that the number of survivors of suicide loss in the U.S reaches 5 million people.

 

Based on the accounts of those who have attempted suicide and lived to tell about it, we know that the primary goal of a suicide is not to end life, but to end pain. People in the grips of a suicidal depression are battling an emotional agony where living becomes objectionable. Most people who die by suicide have a significant depression narrowing their problem solving skills. Corrosive thinking reduces optimism, the hope of possibility and increases feelings of helplessness. The depressive illness itself makes it virtually impossible to hold onto any semblance of pain going away. While some may argue that a person who dies by suicide, has done so by their own choice, I argue that’sserious mental illness, in fact, limits choice. Studies of those who have survived their suicide attempt and healed from their depression report being astonished that they ever considered suicide. Questions of memories like “Were they really good?” “Maybe he wasn’t really happy in this picture?” “Why didn’t I see her emotional pain when we were on vacation?” Sometimes it becomes agonizing to connect to a memory or to share stories from the past- so survivors often divorce themselves from their loved one’s legacy. 

Survivors of suicide loss not only experience three aspects of complicated grief, they are also prone to developing symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder-a direct result from their loved one’s suicide. The unspeakable sadness about the suicide becomes a circle of never ending bewilderment, pain, flashbacks and a need to numb the anguish.

If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, there are many things you can do. In addition, by reaching out, you also help take stigma out of the equation.

One, don’t be afraid to acknowledge the death.

Two, ask the survivor if and how you can help

Three, encourage openness

Four, be patient

Five, listen.

 

Ways to help yourself if you’re a survivor of suicide loss;

One, ground yourself

Two, don’t put a limit to your grief

Three, Plan ahead

Four, make connections

Five, give yourself permission.

 

In the song “I’ll never love again” Ally sang at Jackson’s tribute,

“Wish I could, I could’ve said goodbye

I would’ve said what I wanted to

Maybe even cried for you

If I knew it would be the last time

I would’ve broke my heart in two

Tryin’ to save a part of you

 

……..Would’ve broke my heart in two, trying to save a part of you….

It wasn’t a question of love. Nothing became enough to make the pain go away

 

“You cannot hold yourself responsible for people’s actions, no matter how it affects you” 

 

 Links:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/201311/understanding-survivors-suicide-loss%3famp

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900

 

 

 

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