Many people find comfort in reading about the experiences and thoughts of others. Our support groups often have a small selection of books that you can borrow, alternatively your local library may be able to obtain them for you if you don’t want to buy your own copies.
Listed below are books about suicide bereavement which you may find helpful.
General resources and studies
A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide
by Alison Wertheimer
A Special Scar looks in detail at the stigma surrounding suicide and offers practical help for survivors, relatives and friends of people who have taken their own life. Fifty bereaved people tell their own stories, showing us that, by not hiding the truth from themselves and others, they have been able to learn to live with the suicide, offering hope to others facing this traumatic loss.
This new edition will continue to be an invaluable resource for survivors of suicide as well as for all those who are in contact with them, including police and coroner’s officers, bereavement services, self-help organisations for survivors, mental health professionals, social workers, GPs, counsellors and therapists.
Grief After Suicide – Understanding the Consequences and Caring for Survivors
by John R Jordan and John L McIntosh
There are over 30,000 suicide deaths each year in the United States alone, and the numbers in other countries suggest that suicide as a cause of death will be around for the foreseeable future. A suicide leaves behind more victims than just the individual, as family, friends, co-workers, and the community can be impacted in many different and unique ways following a suicide. And yet there are very few professional resources that provide the necessary background, research, and tools to effectively work with the survivors of a suicide.
This edited volume addresses the need for an up-to-date, professionally-oriented summary of the clinical and research literature on the impact of suicide bereavement on survivors. It is geared towards mental health professionals, grief counselors, clergy, and others who work with survivors in a professional capacity. Topics covered include the impact of suicide on survivors, interventions to provide bereavement care for survivors, examples of promising support programs for survivors, and developing a research, clinical, and programmatic agenda for survivors over the next 5 years and beyond.
A Winding Road – A Handbook for Those Supporting the Bereaved
Michelle Linn-Gust and John Peters
The journey after the suicide of a loved one is winding, always changing. For the people who want to support the bereaved, or are asked to support the bereaved (professional or volunteer), it can be difficult to understand that winding road, especially because of the stigma that suicide has traditionally held with it.
A Winding Road discuss a myriad of issues around the topic from why suicide happens to helping children cope and how culture and religion take a role in how suicide and suicide grief are viewed. Mostly though the book offers hope that the people who are supporting the bereaved can help understand the winding road so that the bereaved don’t have to travel it alone.
Silent Grief – Living in the Wake of Suicide
by Christopher Lukas and Henry M Seiden
“Silent Grief” is a book for and about “suicide survivors” – those who have been left behind by the suicide of a friend or loved one. Author Christopher Lukas is a suicide survivor himself – several members of his family have taken their own lives – and the book draws on his own experiences, as well as those of numerous other suicide survivors. These personal testimonies are combined with the professional expertise of Henry M. Seiden, a psychologist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist.
Coping with Suicide
by Maggie Helen
There are over 6,000 suicides in the UK every year, in addition to 160,000 people who attempt suicide. Each suicide leaves an estimated five to eight people closely affected by the death, and nearly 50 percent of the population know someone who has self-harmed. This book is aimed at those whose loved ones have taken their lives and will also be useful for people working with the relatives and friends of those who have taken their life suicide.
A Woman on the Edge of Time: A Son Investigates His Trailblazing Mother’s Young Suicide
by Jeremy Gavron
Jeremy Gavron was just four when his mother died. Afterward, a silence descended so completely on her family and friends that it was as if she had never lived. In this searching portrait of Hannah, Jeremy embarks on a quest to break forty years of silence, to try to understand who his mother was and what drove her to suicide.
Dying to Be Free: A Healing Guide for Families after a Suicide
by Beverly Cobain & Jean Larch
Surviving the heartbreak of a loved one’s suicide – you don’t have to go through it alone. Authors Beverly Cobain and Jean Larch break through suicide’s silent stigma in Dying to Be Free, offering gentle advice for those left behind, so that healing can begin. The authors break through the dangerous silence, complicated emotions, and brutal stigma to offer this healing guide for family members who have lost a loved one to suicide. Cobain’s personal account of dealing with suicide, along with recollections from other suicide survivors provides insight into the confusion, fear, and guilt family members experience.
A Voice for Those Bereaved by Suicide
by Sarah McCarthy
After Sarah McCarthy’s husband died by suicide, leaving her with four children under ten, she was overwhelmed by loss, despair and anger. But in slow stages she began to live again, to accept the past and take joy in life. This is the story of a courageous journey in coming to terms with loss. A Voice for Those Bereaved by Suicide is an honest, moving and valuable book. Suicide has been denied and hidden for too long; Sarah McCarthy’s decision to tell her story provides a voice for all those bereaved in this tragic way.
Shades of Suicide: Open Verdict/suicide Bereavement
by Ann M Davies and Professor John Goodridge
For all those whose life has been torn apart by an open verdict or suicide bereavement. I have recorded my experiences and reflections in this book hoping they will give you light, hope and comfort as you walk this lonely shore. Reach out towards the horizon and to the future which, if you allow it, will bring joy and new life.
Surviving Suicide: Help to Heal Your Heart
by Heather Hays
Days after her fiance’s suicide, award-winning journalist Heather Hays was back on television, hiding her pain from her viewers and herself. She is no longer hiding. In this book, Heather shares life-changing stories from people around the world who have also been left behind. Through them, you will learn lessons on love and loss to help guide you on your journey
No Time to Say Goodbye
by Carla Fine
Suicide would appear to be the last taboo. Even incest is now discussed freely in popular media, but the suicide of a loved one is still an act most people are unable to talk about–or even admit to their closest family or friends. This is just one of the many painful and paralyzing truths author Carla Fine discovered when her husband, a successful young physician, took his own life in December 1989. And being unable to speak openly and honestly about the cause of her pain made it all the more difficult for her to survive.
The Scent of Dried Roses
by Tim Lott
Tim Lott’s parents, Jack and Jean, met at the Empire Snooker Hall, Ealing, in 1951, in a world that to him now seems ‘as strange as China’. In this extraordinarily moving exploration of his parents’ lives, his mother’s inexplicable suicide in her late fifties and his own bouts of depression, Tim Lott conjures up the pebble-dashed home of his childhood and the rapidly changing landscape of postwar suburban England. It is a story of grief, loss and dislocation, yet also of the power of memory and the bonds of family love.
Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven: Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling
by Michelle Linn-Gust
Michelle tells the difficult story of the loss of a sibling. As a sibling, the author wanted to take care of her parents and yet deal with the loss of a very close sister. The emotions that she bears in “Do They Have….” are a wonderful help in dealing with the close loss of your sibling.
Shoot the damn Dog – A memoir of depression
by Sally Brampton
Shoot the Damn Dog” blasts the stigma of depression as a character flaw and confronts the illness Winston Churchill called ‘the black dog’, a condition that humiliates, punishes and isolates its sufferers. It is a personal account of a journey through (and out of) severe depression, as well as being a practical book, offering ideas about what might help. With its raw, understated eloquence, it will speak volumes to anyone whose life has been haunted by depression, as well as offering help and understanding to those whose loved ones suffer from this terrifying condition.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Reasons to stay alive
by Matt Haig
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE? Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth. ‘I wrote this book because the oldest cliches remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven’t been able to see it …Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.’
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled
by Ruby Wax
My ‘aha’ moment came when I realised I had used my success as armour to cover the chaos inside me… I was just a front; and, behind the front, no one was at home… I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re all in this together: many reside in the Land of Frazzledom, and we’re all trying to find some kind of exit route.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
by Jenni Klock Morel
Beyond Surviving is a raw, beautiful, and inspirational collection of stories written by people who have survived the loss of a loved one to suicide. Our contributing authors speak frankly and from the heart, and delve deep into the confusion, anger, overwhelming sorrow, and feelings of loneliness that can accompany losing a loved one to suicide.
by Professor Green
It was never easy for Professor Green. Born into a tough Hackney estate and raised by his grandmother, the rapper was always learning the hard way – whether at school, on the streets of east London or on stage during impromptu freestyle battles. Indeed, life and music have always been intertwined for the young rapper, but it wasn’t until he was 24 that the two were brought into focus by the suicide of his father – and his emotions, ever since, have been reflected in the raw and often passionate lines of his lyrics. In this wonderful autobiography, Professor Green – a.k.a. Stephen Manderson – reflects on his life so far and how his upbringing and encounters – both good and bad – shaped the person and musician he is today. Passionate, raw and totally open, Lucky is the story of a boy’s journey, from life close to the streets, all the while working towards becoming a successful musician, achieving that dream and eventually gaining that success, only to realise it wouldn’t quite solve all of his problems…Lucky is accompanied by the exclusive Mix Tape app, which takes you closer to Professor Green and his story.With exclusive digital content for readers to enjoy, this is a rare insight into one of the most exciting and controversial musicians working in music today.
Publisher: Bonnier Books Ltd
Real Men Do Cry
by former NFL quarterback Eric Hipple,
This is an incredible story of tragedy and triumph. After his 15-year-old son died of suicide, Eric fell into a debilitating downward spiral. Bankrupt and jailed for drunk driving, he found the strength to seek therapy for his own depression and was able to make an amazing comeback. With unflinching honesty, Eric shares his journey, thus opening the door for others to realize that depression is treatable. This page-turner is packed with practical resources for families living with depression and is a valuable tool for counselors and mental health professionals nationwide. Resources include a Nine-Symptom Checklist for Depression along with Signs of Depression and Possible Suicide Risk
Ana: Her Suicide Story
by Adriana Wheatley
A lot can happen in six days. Having not slept in weeks, Ana is rapidly losing grip on her life. Desperate to stop spiralling out of control, she will try anything to go back to feeling in any way normal – be it with alcohol, sex or drugs. However, Ana is already in the grips of severe depression with a particularly horrific psychosis about to engulf her and back her into a corner where she truly believes she has only one way out… Based on author Adriana’s near-fatal suicide attempt in 2011. Through this publication and by speaking candidly about her attempt, Adriana educates readers on the symptoms of severe depression and psychosis, urging readers to get necessary professional help before its too late. Part of the profits from the book will be given to the Young Urban Arts Foundation to help fund their Youth Mental Health programmes. Visit www.sheroseagain.com for more details.
Children and families
Beyond the Rough Rock: Supporting a Child Who Has Been Bereaved Through Suicide
by J A Stokes, D Stubbs and Heidi Baker (Winstons Wish)
Explaining to a child that someone has died by suicide is possibly one of the most difficult situations that a parent or carer might ever face. This booklet offers practical advice for families in the immediate days and weeks when suicide has been the cause of death. It is a useful booklet aimed at giving parents and professionals the confidence to involve children in discussions about the nature of a death by suicide. It is hoped that children may then begin to understand some of the complexities that often surround suicide. The booklet includes child-friendly activities for you to do as a family as you begin to make sense of what has happened and start to look at ways in which your family can learn to cope.
Never too Young to Grieve – Supporting children under 5 after the death of a parent.
by Winston’s Wish
This booklet is designed for parents, carers, childcare professionals and other adults supporting children up to the age of 5 who have experienced the death of a parent or carer. It offers information and ideas as well as some activities which we hope will benefit children and their families.
You Just Don’t Understand – Supporting bereaved teenagers.
by Helen Mackinnon (Winston’s Wish)
The transition from childhood to adulthood can be a challenging process at the best of times. This booklet aims to help you understand what is normal adolescent development, and to recognise the additional problems teenagers may face if someone important dies during these years. This booklet is based on many years’ experience of working with bereaved teenagers, families and professionals who support them and the information here will help you to consider how to respond to the individual needs of a bereaved teenager.
Rocky Roads – The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief
by Michelle Linn Gust
The grief journey following a suicide loss is not a quick and easy path. Because people are unique, as are the life experiences of individuals, the road can open up in several ways for each person. No one travels the same way. In Rocky Roads: The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief, Michelle Linn-Gust, the author of Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling, guides the family unit with a road map to navigate suicide grief as individuals and also as part of the family unit with the ultimate goal of strengthening the family even after a devastating suicide loss.
Goodbye Daisy – to help children, especially non-verbal or learning-disabled children understand and communicate their feelings around death and dying
by Stephanie Nimmo
Stephanie Nimmo’s daughter, Daisy, was born with a rare, life-limiting, genetic disease. She had lots of things going on medically but in-between hospital stays, Daisy loved nothing more than going to school and spending time with her friends. Daisy had a learning disability; she used Makaton, a form of sign language, to help her communicate. Despite her minimal verbal skills Daisy understood everything; she knew exactly what was going on! Sadly, when Daisy was only ten her beloved Daddy died of cancer. Her teachers made a special book for us to read to her, helping Daisy to articulate her feelings about losing her Daddy. At the time Stephanie found that there were very few books that she could use which were aimed at helping Daisy communicate her feelings around her grief and loss. A year later Daisy succumbed to sepsis and she joined her Daddy in the stars. Daisy had been the life and soul of her school and the staff and children were devastated. Stephanie recalls visiting her friend whose daughter attended the school. She was really aware when she entered their home that the little girl was trying to make sense of it all – Stephanie was in the house, but where was Daisy? She, like Daisy, understood a lot of what was happening but she did not have the words to talk about how she felt. As Stephanie spoke to the teachers and therapists who had worked with Daisy and her friends at school several things struck her; statistically children in special schools are more likely to lose a classmate than a child in a mainstream school; death and grief are not curriculum subjects; very few resources exist to help children, especially non-verbal or learning-disabled children understand and communicate their feelings around death and dying. Goodbye Daisy is written in Daisy’s honour to help others at an incredibly difficult time.
What Happened to Daddy’s Body? – Explaining what happens after death in words very young children can understand.
By Elke and Alex Barber
My daddy died when I was (one…two…) three years old. Today we are out in the garden. It always makes me think about my daddy because he LOVED his garden. Sometimes, I wonder what happened to my daddy’s body… This picture book aims to help children aged 3+ to understand what happens to the body after someone has died. Through telling the true story of what happened to his daddy’s body, we follow Alex as he learns about cremation, burial and spreading ashes. Full of questions written in Alex’s own words, and with the gentle, sensitive and honest answers of his mother, this story will reassure any young child who might be confused about death and what happens afterwards. It also reiterates the message that when you have experienced the loss of a loved one, it is okay to be sad, but it is okay to be happy, too.
Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute? – Explaining (sudden) death in words very young children can understand.
By Elke and Alex Barber
When we were on a No Girls Allowed! holiday, my daddy’s heart stopped beating and I had to find help all by myself. He was very badly broken. Not even the ambulance people could help him… This honest, sensitive and beautifully illustrated picture book is designed to help explain the concept of death to children aged 3+. Written in Alex’s own words, it is based on the real-life conversations that Elke Barber had with her then three-year-old son, Alex, after the sudden death of his father. The book provides reassurance and understanding to readers through clear and honest answers to the difficult questions that can follow the death of a loved one, and carries the invaluable message that it is okay to be sad, but it is okay to be happy, too.
But I Didn’t Say Goodbye: Helping Children and Families After a Suicide
by Barbara Rubel
But I Didn’t Say Goodbye is a book seen through the eyes of Alex, an eleven-year-old boy, whose father has died by suicide. This story is a glimpse into a child’s traumatic and life changing personal experience. But I Didn’t Say Goodbye introduces you to a bereaved family immediately after a suicide and ends five years later. The dialogue in each chapter will show you how you can help develop honest, open communication between children and the people in their lives.
Breaking the Silence – A Guide to Helping Children with Complicated Grief
by Linda Goldman
The second edition of this bestselling book is designed for mental health professionals, educators, and the parent/caregiver, this book provides specific ideas and techniques to work with children in various areas of complicated grief. It presents words and methods to help initiate discussions of these delicate topics, as well as tools to help children understand and separate complicated grief into parts. These parts in turn can be grieved for and released one at a time.
Red Chocolate Elephants: For Children Bereaved by Suicide
by Diana C Sands PhD
This important publicaton (including a DVD) provides a sensitive and appropriate means of engaging with children around the difficult question of death through suicide. Red Chocolate Elephants will be a valuable tool for those supporting children in schools and other settings, and provides an important bridge into exploring this complex and confusing experience.
Luna’s Red Hat
by Emmi Smid
It is a beautiful spring day, and Luna is having a picnic in the park with her family, wearing her Mum’s red hat. Luna’s Mum died one year ago and she still finds it difficult to understand why. She feels that it may have been her fault and worries that her Dad might leave her in the same way. Her Dad talks to her to explain what happened and together they think about all the happy memories they have of Mum. This beautifully-illustrated storybook is designed as a tool to be read with children aged 6+ who have experienced the loss of a loved one by suicide. Suicide always causes shock, not just for the family members but for everyone around them, and children also have to deal with these feelings. The book approaches the subject sensitively and includes a guide for parents and professionals by bereavement expert, Dr Riet Fiddelaers-Jaspers. It will be of interest to anyone working with, or caring for, children bereaved by suicide, including bereavement counsellors, social workers and school staff, as well as parents, carers and other family members.
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Samantha Jane’s missing smile
by Julie Kaplow and Donna Pinus
Since Samantha Jane’s dad died, she has been sad and quiet, keeping to herself. One day, her neighbor Mrs. Cooper gently asks her about her missing smile, and Sammy Jane begins to open up about her grief, her worries, and her confusion. Sammy Jane’s mother joins her daughter in Mrs. Cooper’s garden, and helps her further with accepting and responding to her profound loss.
Publisher: American Psychological Association