The First 6 Months for Loved Ones After a Suicide Attempt
What to Expect
- Wondering when you are going to feel like normal.
- It is most common for a second attempt to happen within nine months of the first attempt. Be aware of this fact so if another attempt does occur you are not taken by surprise.
- The attempter may have already re-attempted at least once and no one may be aware of it if it was minor.
- People may tell you your loved one will eventually kill themselves and won’t stop attempting until they are dead. This is not true or helpful. No one knows who will, or won’t, continue to attempt or complete suicide.
- Feeling run down and abandoned.
- Anger at everyone and everything in your life, including God.
- Needing to talk incessantly about what you have been through. Possibly comparing what you endured to what others have experienced and maybe bringing it up all the time.
- The attempter may promise they will never attempt again. They may tell you what they have learned and give you reasons why they will never attempt again. This does not necessarily mean they will not re-attempt.
- Fear for yourself and your children. You may be afraid of being diagnosed with a mental illness or that your children will be. Fear of having your own suicidal thoughts.
- You may resent that you all have to experience what you are experiencing.
- Fear that you are like the suicide attempter.
- Feeling the effect of the suicide attempt in every aspect of your life (financial, spiritual, social, physical, emotional, mental).
- You may have people say they will never trust the attempter again and will never allow their loved ones around the attempter.
- People may tell you the attempter didn’t really want to die. You may hear that the attempter just wanted attention, or it was a cry for help.
- People may use religion against you or your loved one. They may say the attempter is going to hell. They may say, “God is testing you.” “God is punishing you.” or “God loves you so much He knows you can handle all of this”. People in your religion may abandon you or your family because of their fear. You may find a new religion or spirituality that works for you much better now. You may find people reach out to, and support you more than they ever have in the past.
What You Can Do
If you are in the life of the suicide attempter you need to ensure someone is monitoring their medications, if they are prescribed any. You need to attended, or ensure someone attends doctors’ appointments with them. They may say they are going to their appointments, when they are not. They may either not remember what professionals have said, or tell you things they think you want to hear. Going to appointments with your loved one is for their safety and yours.
- Take care of yourself. This looks and feels different for everyone, but do what is best for you. This may require some amount of effort and thought. Be mindful of your actions to take care of yourself.
- Continue to see your therapist.
- Be honest.
- Eat healthy food.
- Rest and sleep.
- Enforce boundaries you have set. If this is something new to you people will push those boundaries trying to get things back to what they are used to. You have to stand up for you. No one else will. Boundaries are healthy for everyone involved, not just you.