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Matters of substance - supporting suicide survivors

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The IIIC is running a QPR workshop on 9/13/2012. 
By Danielle Owen, IIIC Wellness and Education Services Director

"One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own." - John O'Donohue

When someone we love dies, it is always painful. When we lose someone to suicide, we don't always know how to respond. I have heard family members say that they feel they can't grieve in the same way that they would have done had the person they lost died of a car accident or of cancer. The stigma surrounding suicide means many survivors suffer alone and in silence. This silence impacts their grieving.

The stigma in our communities, the fear and misunderstanding that exists in the wake of a suicide creates a further obstacle to mourning for those left behind. Instead of the unconditional love, support and understanding that they need the most, stigma leaves them feeling abandoned further. There are many things we can do to support a friend or family member grieving a suicide.

- Accept The Intensity Of The Grief
- Listen With Your Heart
- Avoid Simplistic Explanations and Cliches
- Be Compassionate
- Respect The Need To Grieve
- Be Aware Of Holidays And Anniversaries
- Be Aware Of Support Groups

One of the most helpful things to remember is to understand the uniqueness of suicide grief. No one responds in exactly the same way. While it may be possible to talk about similar phases shared by survivors, everyone is different. The grief experience is unique and the process takes a long time so allow your friend/loved one to process at their own pace.

Don't criticize what is "inappropriate behavior". Losing someone to suicide is a shattering experience. As a result of this death, your friend's life is under reconstruction. There is much more to be learned in the difficult, painful process of surviving a suicide that we cannot address in full here but there are some wonderful resources available to support everyone impacted by suicide. If you would like to know more about:

- How to support someone who may be having suicidal thoughts or
- How to support someone who may have recently lost a loved one to suicide,
- What resources are available to the Irish community

Please join us on Thursday September 13th 2012 at 6pm. We are running a QPR Suicide Prevention workshop where you can learn more about the 3 steps that can help save a life from suicide; Question, Persuade, Refer. We will also explore what life is like for survivors and what you can do in a very simple but practical way, to reach out and break the silence and stigma that hinders the grieving process.

Let change begin with us, in our community; let the IIIC help! If you would like to confidentially chat about any of the issues covered here, please call Danielle at 617-542-7654 ext.14 or email:dowen@iicenter.org. Find more information at namimass.org/programs/grief-support-services 

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