Bereaved by Suicide

Bereavement by suicide can impact us in different ways and may affect our physical and mental health. It is important to remember you are not alone and there is help available.

When someone dies by suicide, those left behind, the bereaved, often experience a very complicated form of grief caused by a combination of feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Grief is experienced and expressed in unique ways. Many of these reactions relate to the person no longer physically being there, however some may relate to the fact that the death was by suicide. It is important to be able to acknowledge all of these reactions openly and honestly in order to fully understand and process the loss.

When a loved one is lost to injury or illness, people generally come together to provide support. However, following suicide, friends and family or the wider community may not react or respond in the same manner, potentially leaving those bereaved feeling isolated or shamed.

Have you or someone you know lost someone to suicide?

Below are some reactions those bereaved by suicide may experience after their loss:

  • Shock, numbness, denial
  • Searching for reasons ‘why’
  • Guilt
  • Anger/blame
  • Despair
  • Stigma and shame
  • Loneliness/disconnection
  • Isolation
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Thoughts of suicide.

Suicide bereavement, like any loss, will take time to process and each person will cope in their own way. You might find some of these suggestions helpful:

  • Take time out — It’s ok to give yourself time out from the pain you are experiencing by doing something you enjoy, even if you don’t feel like doing it all the time.
  • Accept your feelings – you may feel a variety of emotions such as grief, despair, anger, guilt, denial, shock, confusion, loneliness, anxiety and even in some cases, relief. All feelings are a normal part of the grieving process.
  • Care for yourself – do your best to eat well, hydrate, exercise and get quality sleep. Taking care of your physical and emotional self will help you get through each day.
  • Stay connected and accept support from friends, family and support networks.
  • You may want to honour the deceased person– talk about them, share memories/photos or practice any spiritual or cultural activities that are meaningful to you.
  • Consider joining a suicide bereavement group – sharing your experience with others who have been through similar loss might be helpful for you to connect and feel less alone.
  • Ask for help – talk to a counsellor/psychologist, a helpline like Lifeline, friends and family, online support groups, or a GP to find support and healthy ways to cope.


If you know someone bereaved by suicide, you can help by: 

  • Contacting the person, as you would with any other death, to let them know you acknowledge the situation and care 
  • Listening — remember that the role of the helper is to listen, not solve 
  • Accepting the person and their feelings, whatever they might be and not judging 
  • Letting them cry 
  • Not asking ‘why’ or if there was anything that could have been done
  • Encouraging them to talk about the death with any children — they need help too 
  • Mentioning the loved one by name and trying to remember important dates (birthdays etc) for the future 
  • Including the bereaved person in your normal activities
  • Realising that working through grief can take years and that the hurt is never forgotten 
  • Urging them to wait before making any major changes such as moving, giving away possessions or quitting a job 
  • Understanding they can’t just ‘get over it’ but grow their lives around it 
  • Suggesting they join a suicide bereavement support group 
  • If and when appropriate, asking them if they are thinking about suicide and getting them professional help if they need it

It can be very difficult to know what to do and how to cope, but help is available. Below are some places to go for information and support. If life is in danger, please call 000.

Have you lost someone to suicide – Factsheet

For Crisis Support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24/7) or via text (12pm – 6am AEDT) on 0477 13 11 14

If you know someone bereaved by suicide


  • ✘ Panic or become angry.
  • ✘ Ask for details
  • ✘ Avoid talking about the person who has died
  • ✘ Don’t say things such as “They’ve gone to a better place”
  • ✘ Don’t say things such as “You need to move on”


  • ✔ Acknowledge the death as soon as you can
  • ✔ Talk about the deceased and your memories with them
  • ✔ Provide empathetic and non-judgemental support
  • ✔ Encourage positive activities

Supporting children impacted by suicide

Children who have lost someone to suicide need lots of help and support. Their reactions will often differ from an adult’s. 
  • Ensure you talk to them in a safe place where there are no distractions 
  • It is important to be honest with children about what happened. Ensure an appropriate person talks to them as soon as it’s possible to do so 
  • Reassure them it’s not their fault 
  • If you are unsure about how to talk to them or how to support them, see ask a psychologist or go on Lifeline’s webpage to obtain the information 
  • If they are not coping and you are concerned, get professional help.
We are here to stand by you. If you need support, please call Lifeline anytime of 13 11 14.

For 24-hour telephone crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14

If life is in danger, call 000

Lifeline South Coast would like to acknowledge the lives that have been lost to suicide. We are committed to supporting those with a lived experience of suicide and aim to reduce the stigma around seeking help for poor mental health and suicidal crisis.