After a Suicide: Recommendations for Religious Services & Other Public Memorial Observances

When an act of suicide causes the end of a life, it affects the community of survivors in a very profound way—much different from a death caused by heart disease, cancer, or an accident (Barrett & Scott, 1990). The unique social, cultural, and religious contexts regarding suicide are complicated by nearly pervasive misinformation and misunderstanding. Consequently, stigma, shame, embarrassment, and unwarranted guilt add unnecessarily to the already heavy burden on those grieving (Worden, 1991). Planning a religious service or other memorial observance under these circumstances provides a number of challenges.