The following information has been provided by the
National Funeral Directors Association. We would like to thank them for allowing us to mirror some of the fine Consumer Information available at the NFDA Online website.
If you are thinking of doing harm to yourself, PLEASE READ THIS.
If you need help for a friend or loved one, GO HERE.
When someone close to you dies, it's difficult to let go. If the death was unexpected-the result of an accident, for example it's even harder to accept. When someone chooses to end his or her own life, accepting the death can seem impossible.
Unfortunately, more people than ever before are living with the shock of suicide. In the past 30 years, suicides in the United States have increased by 11 percent, to about 30,000 per year. Suicides among adolescents have tripled in the past 40 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. From 1980-1992, suicide among American teens 15-19 years old rose 28.3 percent; for children 10-14 has grown 120 percent. Health professionals are calling adolescent suicide an epidemic.
Why Do They Choose to Die?
Some say that life has become more difficult, especially for adolescents. The days when teenagers could count on growing up and running the family farm or business are gone. Teens and young adults may feel overwhelming pressure to excel, to compete, to make their way in what they see as a hostile world.
In fact, suicide victims are often success driven. Studies have shown that there are more suicides among college students than noncollege students, and more suicides at prestigious colleges than at others.
An alarming number of young people today believe they have no control over their lives. Rabbi Earl Grollman, who has written a number of books on death, says that when he recently asked a group of young people how long they expected to live, many replied that they would be dead by age 21-killed by nuclear bombs.
At the same time, many traditional sources of security and strength in our society have broken down. A staggering divorce rate has broken the bonds of the family. A mobile American lifestyle keeps many children from developing a sense of hometown roots or from belonging to a community. Fewer people these days belong to a church. In short, today's teens feel pressure, but have fewer places to turn when the pressure becomes overwhelming.
Reactions to Suicide
You may become quite angry. You may feel that someone close to the victim should have seen warning signs and prevented the suicide friends, parents, teachers, doctors, a spouse or any counselors the person was seeing. You may be very angry with the deceased for killing himself or herself, saying to yourself, "How could he or she do this to me?"
There's a good chance that you'll feel angriest with yourself. "I should have done something! I should have stopped him or her!" you may say. Parents and spouses are especially likely to become burdened with this kind of guilt after a suicide.
You may feel guilt for another reason: if the suicide victim's emotional turmoil had made him or her difficult for you to handle, you may feel a sense of relief that you don't have to worry about it any more-then feel guilty because "I wanted this to happen."
You may feel profoundly sad or sink into a deep depression after the suicide. You may lose your appetite, have difficulty sleeping or become irritable. You may become obsessed with the deceased, playing out the circumstances of the death over and over in your mind. You may even think you see or hear the suicide victim at times.
Coping With Suicide
It's very important that you share your tears and talk about your feelings to others. Express your anger, your guilt and your fears. Your friends may feel awkward around you for a while because they don't know what to say. Tell them when you want to talk about the deceased; and don't be afraid to use the word "suicide." It's important that everyone accept what has happened.
That includes children. You may be tempted to "protect" your children by concealing a suicide. Don't. They'll hear about it somewhere else and feel worse than if you had told them. Simply explain that sometimes when people are very unhappy, they kill themselves. Let them know suicide is a mistake, and they don't have to worry that you will commit suicide when you are unhappy. You may even find that talking to your children helps you with your grief.
Meanwhile, if you have a heavy schedule, lighten it. Grief is stressful, and you don't need the added strain of too much to do. Find time to sit by yourself and put things in perspective.
Take care of yourself physically as well. Try to eat well, get enough sleep and exercise. Physical activity can help offset depression and provide you with an outlet for your emotional energy.
The grief that follows suicide can be so intense that you may wonder if you need professional help. While there is no timetable for grief, if you think you aren't coping well, you might consider asking your clergyperson, doctor or funeral director to suggest a counselor. If nothing else, you may be relieved to discover that you are coping normally. A counselor may also be able to refer you to a self-help group for suicide survivors, such as a local chapter of Ray of Hope Inc.
Finally, remember that, in time, your grief will diminish. This doesn't mean you will forget about your loved one or condone suicide. It simply means you have learned to accept what happened and get on with your life.
If an adolescent commits suicide, parents of his or her peers should be alert for suicidal warning signs in their own children. The American Academy of Pediatrics lists these behaviors as warning signs:
If you recognize these signs in a child, the academy suggests you take these steps:
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