Comforting loss survivors

By Melissa Martin

Family and friends, also referred to as loss survivors, experience complex feelings after the death of a loved one by suicide, such as confusion, disbelief, despair, sadness, fear, grief, shame, guilt, abandonment, and anger. The death is often shocking, painful and unexpected. Loss survivors need understanding, compassion, and support.

“The Suicide Memorial Wall was created on 15 April 2001 to help us remember some of the names of people from all over the world whose deaths were self-inflicted. We also hope to show visitors that suicide is a tragic end to lives that once had great potential. Most of all, however, we hope to plant seeds of compassion in the hearts of those who read the names: seeds that may develop into a commitment to understanding suicide and finding solutions.” The marquee on the website includes the names of 16982 people whose lives are acknowledged. Their names scroll on the screen 24 hours a day 7 days a week 52 weeks a year.”

Photos of loved ones who died by suicide are included on the website in remembrance.

“Since my soulmate of 33 years, Steve, took his own life in March, 2015, I have observed that there are some common ties that bind suicide survivors. Yes, some of these ties are shared by anyone who grieves the loss of a loved one and I am by no means trivializing their pain. We all grieve differently and in different ways for different relationships. However, in the case of suicide survivors, I believe our grief is intensified due to the stigmas associated with suicide and society’s inability to comprehend how someone can take their own life.” This is a story featured on the National Alliance of Mental Health website at

“Now that I work at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, I realize more and more to what extent my mom died of a very real disease. That if we treated mental health more like physical health, so many suicides could be averted. That I should be able to matter-of-factly say that my mom died of suicide in the same way that another friend might say her mom died of cancer, without worrying about making people feel uncomfortable…and not in the hushed tone that people just a few decades ago used to use for cancer, too.”

“Without a doubt, suicide survivors suffer in a variety of ways: one, because they need to mourn the loss of someone who has died; two, because they have experienced a sudden, typically unexpected traumatic death; and three, because they are often shunned by a society unwilling to enter into the pain of their grief.”


“After a Suicide” is a portal linking people who are grieving after a death by suicide to an online directory of resources and information to help them cope with their loss. The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) offers a variety of resources and programs to survivors in an attempt to lessen pain as they travel their special path of grief.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) Suicide Prevention and Postvention Program has cared for thousands of survivors of military suicide loss.

The suicide of a child of any age presents unique circumstances that can intensify and prolong the mourning process for parents, family members and friends.

“If you have lost a loved one to suicide, you are not alone.” Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Resources in Ohio

Ohio hosts a strong network of Local Outreach of Suicide Survivor (LOSS) Teams representing counties across the state. Currently 24 of Ohio’s 88 counties are represented by 17 LOSS Teams. 5 Regional LOSS Team Trainings are being hosted in 2019 to continue to grow this network of LOSS Teams in Ohio.

The Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) training will be held July 18 at Shawnee Family Health Center, Portsmouth OH.

By Melissa Martin