Bereavement following suicide

The sudden death of a loved one causes great pain and sadness. When the death has been through suicide families often face additional pressures. 

There may be the agonising question - "Why?" - a question for which there may be no answer.

There is often intense media interest and families find themselves reading about their loved one in the press and increasingly on social media

There may be great feelings of guilt. "Should I have know this would happen? Could I have done anything different?

When the police feel that the death is through suicide, although this can only be determined at an inquest, Family Liaison Officers who support families after a murder do not stay involved and this can leave families feeling very isolated at the most difficult time of their lives. 

In Oxfordshire the police now suggest that families call SeeSaw if there has been a presumed suicide of a parent or sibling where young people under 18 are affected. We respond to such calls very quickly and are readily available to help survivors find the words to talk with young people. 

We believe in gentle honesty and openness and our experience tells us that children manage best if they are told the truth by someone close to them. The risk of them finding out about a suicide in a very insensitive way through playground talk or social media is considerable. 

If you have been affected by the suicide of someone close and you are concerned about your children, please do contact SeeSaw on 01865 744768.

Useful reading

'Help is at hand: support after someone may have died by suicide' An NHS publication.

This guide was written to help people who are unexpectedly bereaved following the suicide or sudden traumatic death of a friend or relative. It covers practical matters following the death, experience of grieving and how grief after suicide or traumatic death may be different. There is also guidance for bereaved people with differing needs and ideas on friends and colleagues can help.


'Red chocolate elephants: for children bereaved by suicide' a book & DVD resource by Diana C.Sands

Provides adults with the understanding and assistance to support primary school aged children experiencing the death of a family member to suicide. It is not intended for children to read on their own, but as an assisted reading activity with an adult, reading a few pages and taking the time to explore concerns. Provides a sensitive and appropriate means of engaging with children around the difficult question of death through suicide. 


'Beyond the rough rock: supporting a child who has been bereaved through suicide', by Di Stubbs

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. 


'After a suicide: a workbook for grieving kids', by Dougy Centre

In this hands-on, interactive workbook, children who have been exposed to a suicide can learn from other grieving kids. The workbook includes drawing activities, puzzles, stories, advice from other kids and helpful suggestions for how to navigate the grief process after a suicide death.


'A special scar' by Alison Wertheimer

This book 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.