Suicide – The aftermath
The politically correct way to discuss suicide is to describe it as “taking their life” as the phrase “committing suicide” refers back to the time when it was criminal and is therefore a shortened version of “committing the criminal offence of suicide”. Taking your own life is not a criminal offence, aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring (ie helping or encouraging in any way) are all still are criminal.
Taking their own life, is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.
So when someone takes their life, the friends and family that are left behind are hit by the tragedy. Before they took their life, options are possible, there are choices, even if that person doesn’t see them for themselves. Afterwards, those options have gone. And they are never coming back, so nothing will ever be the same again.
If someone attempt to take their life unsuccessfully, then the options are still possible and those around that person are on notice that they need help, even though they might not have asked for it. It can entirely change the situation, as the person may have done serious harm to themselves in the attempt and their life is irrevocably changed by the new situation. And the person, their family and healthcare professionals all must deal with the outcome and the new situation.
If someone is successful at taking their life, those who are left behind are firstly numb, then the questions start. What could I have done differently? What opportunities were missed? And by whom? And all whilst this is going on, there is sadness. Sadness for the life that could have been. And a sense of loss of the missed opportunities and lost life.
The family and friends will be bereaved and have stress to deal with and may well become depressed. The families that I deal with when their loved ones took their own life really struggle, they are confused and their speech can get confused, it is all a sign of their stress and anguish.
When someone takes their own life, it is sad for the survivors, but they did it because they saw it as their only choice out of their pain. It is not an easy decision, it is not the decision of what to eat for dinner or what colour shoes to wear. It is a big important decision and it takes a lot in the moment to carry it out. For the family who are left behind afterwards, you have my sympathy, living with the aftermath is very hard.