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Supporting Loved Ones Affected by Suicide

Losing a life under any circumstance is deeply heartbreaking. Suicide can make the situation even more difficult for several reasons - it is often sudden, may involve a violent circumstance, is unexpected and those left behind often have a range of emotions including shame, anger, abandonment, fear and guilt.  Taking the time to give support to a loved one can really make a difference in the grieving process.  Focus on providing compassion and empathy as well as holding space for their emotions. It is important to understand that when you are supporting a loved one who has lost someone close to suicide, there are specific resources to help you both each step of the way.  

Being Available for Emotional Support 

When you hear that your loved one has been affected by suicide, make it a point to reach out to them and check in about their needs. One main way you can provide emotional support during this time is to be a listening ear. They will need someone who will acknowledge the events that they just experienced as well as provide emotional validation. Be mindful of judgment and keep advice very practical. They may need time before they talk about what they experienced or they may need you to listen closely to their thoughts at this time. 


Everyone has their own way of grieving so it’s important to respect their grieving process. It may take months before they start feeling like themselves again or they may be able to keep going about their day-to-day life without much effort. Try to regularly check in with them whether it’s with a phone call, a supportive note or going over and hanging out with them. It is also important to check in with yourself so that you still maintain your own well-being. Both you and your loved one must be able to have a supportive and safe environment to allow room to process emotions. 


If you would like a more information on emotional support, Harvard Health Publishing provides a more in-depth advice in this article.

Options for Practical Support 

While you’ve been providing emotional support, there are some practical ways to make this time easier for your loved one. Offer to help with various tasks that may seem overwhelming to survivors.  Offer to draft a death announcement for them, make calls to other family members as well as friends. Help with shopping and other errands, or assistance with contacting a funeral home.  When they are ready, help with taking care of the deceased's belongings - things your loved one may want donated or preserving treasured memories in an album.


If the incident happened at your loved one’s home, gather information on scene remediation services. Bio-One provides professional and compassionate suicide clean-up services. We are trained professionals who are experienced in handling situations with care. It’s easy to request our services through our website or a phone call. Bio-One believes in help first and business second. Our vehicles are free of advertising to provide the utmost discretion and privacy to all involved. 


This is a time when people need an incredible amount of support. Encourage your loved one to look into a support group where they can find emotional help and understanding with others experiencing similar feelings and emotions. 


For support in Iowa, you can refer to our Resources page at  Other resources are available through NAMI Iowa, Polk County Crisis & Advocacy Services, Central Iowa Trauma Recovery, Des Moines Pastoral Care, and thru your church.



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