As a funeral director, you can find yourself facing both sides of suicide – a family left to grieve the loss of a loved one to a suicide death, as well as individuals who are having thoughts of suicide. Both of these are not only difficult and potentially overwhelming support scenarios to navigate, but they are so important to the health and safety of your funeral home families. We wanted to bring you a quick post that you can easily bookmark for those moments that you need a refresher or some support on the tips and resources available that can help both you and your families.
First and foremost remember, “postvention” is prevention! I know, I know… Sounds like a bunch of jargon. But it is important. Research has shown time and again that those bereaved by suicide are at increased risk for thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide. Your roles in supporting those who have lost someone to suicide is helping to reduce that. Being comfortable addressing suicide prevention resources is a crucial part of supporting those grieving a suicide death.
#1 Know the suicide crisis resources.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network (Hotline and Online Chat)
Crisis Text Line
Text TALK to 741-741
Veterans Crisis Line
Send a text to 838255
The Trevor Helpline (Crisis Hotline, Text, or Chat for LGBT+ Youth)
#2 Know the suicide prevention resources.
#3 Know the suicide survivor in-person grief support groups.
This means staying up to date with what is available in your community, as there are often groups offered through local hospices, hospitals, grief centers, and churches. The following links include either group locators or suicide support groups that exist or can be started in your community:
#4 Know the online suicide support groups/forums.
Alliance of Hope (A forum with a mental health moderator)
Suicide Grief (A forum with non-professional, volunteer moderation)
#5 Know the resources for talking to kids grieving a suicide loss.
- A Great Workbook for Kids
- Tips on How to Talk to Kids
- A Great Book for Parents and Caregivers Supporting Kids Grieving a Suicide
#6 Language matters!
When talking to those grieving a suicide, know the appropriate language. Your words can subtly impact how they perceive the death, as well as their assumptions about how you (and others) perceive the death. Make sure to use non-stigmatizing language when talking about suicide, not just with families, but always. Instead of “committed suicide” use “died by suicide”. The AP knows what’s up when it comes to language, all end-of-life, grief, and mental health professionals should too!
#7 Media coverage of suicide can be triggering.
When there are public suicides, either in your community or of celebrities, it is important to post reminders on your social media with information about how people can get support. The image with various hotline information above can be posted, the image below is available, and all the hotline and chat resources have images on their own websites that you can share.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of resources, but it is a place to get started! As always, share your feedback or other suggestions in the comments. Subscribe to get our weekly posts right to your inbox!