Witnessing a suicide or discovering the scene of a suicide death is a traumatic experience.

It can affect you in different ways whether you knew the person or not, and you may have intense feelings and reactions. Or you may not, which is normal because everyone reacts differently. Some of the things you may experience include: 

  • shock, numbness, detachment  
  • sadness 
  • emptiness and despair 
  • guilt 
  • anger 
  • fear 
  • curiosity 
  • feeling time is distorted 
  • hyper-vigilance and anxiety 
  • flashbacks, which may include sounds, sights, smells or feelings
  • having disturbing thoughts you can't block out 
  • physical symptoms including fatigue, nausea, or eating or sleeping disturbances
  • avoidance of the area the suicide occurred in.

Everyone's experience of traumatic events is different and how people cope or recover varies. Some people experience flashbacks; sudden, powerful moments where you feel like you’re reliving your traumatic experience, or some aspect of it. You can read more about flashbacks here.

More information on discovering or witnessing a suicide