Care & Support

Advice and guidance on how to manage your loss

02 Care and Support

Care and Support

It is helpful to have a strong support network who provide emotional and practical support. There are things you can do for yourself, and it is also good to consider seeking additional assistance. The complexity and intensity of loss to suicide means that learning how to manage and cope is important, though not always easy.

Some approaches you can try include ...

The pain of losing someone to suicide can lead to thoughts of wanting to join them or to stopping the pain. Experiencing these thoughts is understandable, but it is important to reach out for professional and peer support if they become persistent and intense.

It is important to reach out for support if you feel overwhelmed. Visiting your GP or accessing 24/7 support lines can be a helpful first step; these include StandBy Support After Suicide on 1300 727 247 and Lifeline 13 11 14. There are also specialist services that understand the experience of suicide loss and can be a valuable source of information and support.

How to talk about what’s happened

In the very early days, it can be difficult to even say the word ‘suicide’. It can feel too traumatic, confronting and hard to believe. Initially, you may find that you choose not to tell others about the cause of death because it feels easier. However, this may result in a feeling of unease and create distance in your relationships with others. 

This in turn may also lead to a lack of support and a sense of isolation. Being as open and honest as you are comfortable is recommended.

Over time, you may find that it becomes more comfortable. However, there can be interactions and conversations that continue to be challenging after losing a loved one to suicide.

You may find that some people avoid speaking about what has happened or about the person who died. Alternatively, you may find that others ask questions that feel insensitive and intrusive, for example, “how did they die?” or “why did they do it?”. Other times, you may be caught off-guard by a question, such as “how many kids do you have?”

It can help to prepare yourself for some of these conversations, by having a response prepared and practised so these situations feel manageable. A good principle to keep in mind is that it is okay for you not to answer, to only partially answer or to give a full answer. This will depend on how you are going at the time, and with whom you are talking. You may be comfortable to share more with some people than others. If you sense that someone is genuinely caring and concerned, you may say more than if someone has asked impulsively out of curiosity. A helpful phrase when you don’t want to speak about it is, “I don’t want to talk about it at the moment”.

Essentially, it is up to you how much or how little you say during any conversation.

Challenging stigma

Eventually if you feel comfortable, you may wish to speak up when friends, family, colleagues or the media express false beliefs and negative stereotypes about your loved one’s suicide. Hearing things like “that was so selfish”, “he couldn’t cope with life”, and “he didn’t consider what this would do to you” may upset you.

You can give yourself space to disengage if you are not feeling ready for these conversations. Other times, you may choose to respond with more informed explanations about these beliefs, for example:

“The majority of people who are suicidal do not want to die. They are in pain, and they want to stop the pain”.
“Anyone may be vulnerable when facing difficult circumstances or when experiencing feelings of depression or hopelessness”.

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Returning to work

Eventually you may begin to think about re-engaging with the routines and structures of everyday life. For many, it is a financial necessity to return to work. For others, it is a means of keeping occupied; the routine and normality of working may provide some relief.

For others, returning to work can be difficult. Some postpone returning to employment, concerned about the additional stress created by work.

Some tips include speaking with your workplace before you return to find out what flexibility can be offered. You may need more time off, or ease into returning to work for partial days or partial weeks, or perhaps would benefit from lighter duties.

Where to find support

There is a comprehensive and up-to-date Service Directory available online on the Postvention Australia website. If you do not have access to the online directory, phone Postvention Australia on 1300 02 4357 and you will be assisted to find what you are looking for.

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Support Groups

Many people bereaved by suicide find group support to be very comforting and helpful. Groups can help validate grief experiences and you can experience understanding and a sense of belonging by being with those who have similar experiences. Support groups can complement other postvention services like counselling. Groups are sometimes facilitated by professional counsellors or by trained peer supporters. StandBy Support After Suicide can assist you in locating group support (phone 1300 727 247) or you can visit Postvention Australia’s Service Directory.

There are different types of groups, which includes the following:

The Road Ahead

For most people the grief and trauma of suicide is a long road. You may sometimes think that you will never recover or feel like yourself again.

There are many people who have suffered this devastating loss who go on to live satisfying and fulfilling lives. At times, they will have thought that they could not manage life following the suicide. The depth of the loss may never fully leave you, but even when it feels impossible to recover, know that there are others who know this experience and who have learned to live with it.

Postvention Australia

Find the Right Services for You

Search through our comprehensive service directory to find postvention services that best suit your needs.


For more suggestions, please visit our Resources Page for a number of helpful readings, guides and websites.

05 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium

6th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium

10 Suicide Postvention Counselling

Suicide Postvention Counselling

12 Police QRC Mental Illness in the Media

Police QRC: Mental Illness in the Media

15 Suicide in the Media

Suicide in the Media

18 Loosing Someone to Suicide

Loosing Someone to Suicide