Stigma and isolation
Death by suicide, even more than other types of bereavement, makes many people uncomfortable and unsure how to react. There is still a stigma attached to suicide, rooted in centuries of history and this generates misplaced associations of weakness, blame, shame or even sin or crime. This stigma can prevent people from seeking help when they need it and others from offering support when they want to.
There may be a desire to deny that the death was a suicide – this may be driven by cultural values or from a sense of denial or of shame. This can create further confusion in an already complex situation.
Many people who have been bereaved by suicide find that they feel isolated. Others may avoid them, perhaps not knowing what to say or because they don’t want to upset the person. The sense of isolation may be especially acute if the bereaved person perceives other people to be uncaring or judgemental. Some people are unlucky enough to receive particularly thoughtless and malicious comments.
It may also be that the bereaved person avoids contact themselves – they may struggle to share their own feelings because they are fearful themselves of what they are experiencing, they don’t want to upset other people or they may worry about how to answer questions such as “how did he die?”