cALL 800-273-8255 or
text "sos" to 741741
Here you will find an impassioned and persuasive plea, as well as information resources for help, coping with challenges faced by suicidal individuals, relevant books, and useful web sites.
This online handbook provides information and food for thought for suicidal individuals, with material addressing what to do when suicidal, how to make sense of suicidal thoughts, and ways to decrease suicidal thoughts and prevent more suicidal episodes. (Sponsored by Simon Fraser University in Canada.)
This site, a project of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, contains personal accounts of people who have seriously considered suicide or attempted suicide. The people come from all walks of life gay and straight, military and not, teen and adult, and so on and though their suffering has been great, their survival is inspiring.
This website contains a wealth of information for people who think about dying by suicide or who have made an attempt or had such thoughts in the past. The Resources page is rather exhaustive, and I highly recommend it. It provides a list not only of crisis hotlines, but also of various creative projects aimed at spreading information about the suicidal experience.
This page by the Samaritans provides advice on how to help someone you care about who may be considering suicide.
Information and Support After a Suicide Attempt (23 page PDF)
This booklet by the VA is geared toward family members of veterans who survived a suicide attempt, but the information largely is applicable to all attempt survivors and their families. The guide contains good advice on talking with children about a suicide attempt of a family member, separated by age groups: 4-8 year olds; 9-13 year olds; 14-18 year olds.
Verbal signs, physical changes, new behaviors, and triggering events linked to suicide are described here. (Sponsored by the Samaritans.)
This site contains abundant information about the experience of losing a loved one to suicide. It includes a blog, recommended books, memorials for people who died by suicide, and a community forum. The site states, In our forum, survivors can contact others with similar losses, share their stories and discuss the many facets of healing from loss by suicide. It operates like a 24/7 support group, with a team of trained moderators and a mental health clinician who contributes regularly.
This blog for survivors of suicide loss is authored by Franklin Cook. His father died by suicide almost 30 years ago, and since then he has served as a voice for suicide loss survivors in numerous national roles. A highlight of his blog is the Survivor Outlook section, which features first-person accounts of other suicide loss survivors. The Grief After Suicide blog also contains numerous other resources, including lists of suicide loss survivor websites, support groups, online discussion forums and chat rooms.
This Facebook group describes itself as a suicide grief support group for spouses-partners who have been through loss of a husband/wife, fiance, boyfriend/girlfriend, or life partner to suicide. (SOLOS stands for Survivors of Loved Ones to Suicide.)
SOS: A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide (36 page PDF)
Of all the online guides to surviving the suicide of a loved one, this may be the most comprehensive. Written by a man whose wife died by suicide, the guide includes information on the emotional rollercoaster that follows a suicide, myths and facts about suicide, suggestions for coping, narratives from other survivors, and inspirational words for surviving, coping, and healing after the loss of a loved one to suicide. (Sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology.)
This Facebook page is geared toward everyone affected in some form or other by suicide or mental illness. Yet the people who seem to follow it most passionately are people who have lost a loved one to suicide, hence its inclusion here as a resource for suicide loss survivors. The pages administrator Barb Hildebrand is tireless in her advocacy and compassion for people touched, in any way, by suicide. Because of the pages popularity, you can comment on a post or photo and usually watch the discussion grow in just minutes. As of March 2017, more than 150,000 people were following the page.
This site, sponsored by the American Association for Suicidology, and this site, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, both provide directories for support groups nationwide for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. Some support groups are led by a mental health professional, while others are led by participants themselves.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention trains people who have survived a suicide loss to reach out to others newly bereaved by suicide. The volunteers will visit new survivors and offer peer support, at the survivors request. Click here to request an in-person or remote visit.
Today may feel like the hardest day of your life, this brochure states. It directs information to someone who very recently attempted suicide and is now leaving the emergency room, but in fact much of what it states about the recovery process, safety planning, and coping applies to anyone who has attempted suicide or still considers it. (The brochure was developed by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.)
The creator and author of this blog, Cara Anna, is herself a suicide attempt survivor. (She also created the blog attemptsurvivors.com; see below.) The highlights of this site are its Resources page, with a list of resources and projects dedicated to suicide attempt survivors, and its page of interviews with attempt survivors. She conducted more than 50 such interviews, and each has its own gems.
Although this blog (attemptsurvivors.com) contains much useful information for people who have attempted suicide, unquestionably its major highlight is the personal accounts of attempt survivors. Readers can find here a community of like-minded souls, people who understand well the challenges that can lead to a suicide attempt and the further challenges that can follow it. The personal accounts also reflect the hope, growth, and resilience that often accompany the healing process. (This blog is sponsored by the American Association for Suicidology.)
For Mental Health Professionals
There is a wealth of information available too much to list here for mental health professionals who want to learn more about risk assessment, intervention, psychotherapy, and legal risk management with individuals at risk for suicide. Here I provide a brief list of key books:
Cognitive therapy (also called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT) is one of only a few treatments that has demonstrated effectiveness in reducing suicide risk and attempts. This book describes in specific detail the cognitive therapy techniques that have helped reduced suicide attempts.
This book should be required reading not only for students, but also for mental health professionals at all levels of experience. As I explain in a separate post, it describes techniques to help assess a persons suicidal thoughts and intent. It also provides extensive information, in a highly readable, non-academic style, about suicide, its stigma, and its possible causes, while also delving into the specifics of suicide risk documentation and decision making.
The author may well be the foremost authority on the legal aspects of psychotherapy with suicidal clients, in particular the risk for malpractice lawsuits following a clients suicide. He provides good, sound advice in this book for managing suicide risk and providing competent care. He states his positions forthrightly; in fact, he approaches sacrilege when criticizing commonly held notions in suicide risk assessment. For example, he asserts that suicide risk assessment forms encourage clinical lassitude and increase malpractice risk. And he argues that clinicians are practicing unethically when they do not provide after-hours coverage for emergencies and instead refer a patient to call 911 or go to an emergency room in the event of an emergency. All the while, he bases his arguments on prior legal cases and case histories.
In this book, the author (considered the grandfather of modern suicidology) focuses on psychological pain as the cause of suicide. Of course, this seems obvious, but in reality, much of the literature about suicide over the last few decades has focused on biological, sociological, and psychiatric risk factors for suicide, looking at statistics instead of individuals personal accounts of their pain. Shneidman elucidates this pain intensely, and argues that the only way to really prevent a persons suicide is to fundamentally understand that persons pain and to help reduce it.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has demonstrated effectiveness at treating depression and suicidality. This book describes, in extensive detail, one CBT approach to helping suicidal clients. Topics go beyond the standard fare of theory, risk factors, and risk assessment. The material has immediate relevance to clinical practice, with information on crisis intervention, symptom management, cognitive restructuring (the book titles this section Changing the suicidal belief system and building a philosophy for living), and skills training.
This book by a renowned suicidologist,
whose father died by suicide, describes the authors
prominent theory of suicide causation, the
Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide. Joiner
provides evidence that key characteristics must co-exist for
a person to die by suicide: 1) They perceive that they are a
burden to their loved ones; 2) They experience, or perceive
they experience, extreme alienation; and 3) They have become
habituated in some way to physical pain or life-threatening
situations, making suicide seem less frightening and
formidable to them. The first two factors combine to create
a desire for death, and the habituation to pain or danger
enables the ability to die by suicide.