Although suicide is an individual act, people often have feelings of guilt and responsibility, blaming themselves or others. It is natural to want to know the answers to questions like these:
- why did the suicide happen? What caused it?
- where did it happen and how?
- did they suffer?
- who spoke to them or saw them last? Was it me?
- why didn’t I see this coming? Why didn’t someone else?
- why didn’t they ask for help? Or did they?
- could I have done more?
- is it my fault in any way?
- how do I tell people? What will they say?
- where is their spirit now?
These “what ifs” may seem endless. It helps to understand that a mix of factors play a part when someone is suicidal. These may include:
- depression, bipolar disorder or another mental illness. This may, or may not, have been identified before their death
- addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling
- high levels of stress
- experience of violence, bullying or sexual abuse
- having no sense of their own culture, identity or purpose in life
- significant change in their life, like moving to a different country, coming out as gay or transgender, or retiring from work
- major loss or disappointment, like someone close to them dying, a recent relationship breakup, failing exams, being dropped from their sports team, or having their refugee status declined
Not all people who face these kinds of challenges will be suicidal. And sometimes it is not possible to know why a person died by suicide, or to identify contributing factors.
Talk to someone
To support yourself, it may be useful to talk to a friend or relative who knows the person who died, or to someone else who has been through what you are going through. Or, you may feel you want to talk to someone who does not know you, which is where organisations like Lifeline, Youthline, Samaritans or Victim Support can help.
There are many agencies and people that can help or give advice, comfort and support so you do not have to face things alone.