Suicide and Survivor’s Guilt

GuiltIt is somehow become a universal notion that suicide survivors are the ones who bear the most guilt. In this context, their term “suicide survivors” refer to those family members or friends that were left behind by the one who committed the act. One may wonder why this is the prevalent emotion of those people when in fact, this should not be the case.

Studies have suggested that we humans have a strong sense of denial towards the fact that we do not have total control of the things that happen in our lives. In other words, we find it difficult and sometimes almost impossible to move on. In the case of suicide survivors, they tend to “blame” instead of “taking responsibility” for what happened. Usually, blaming has the cadence of judgment and accusation. For suicide, the survivors are not the one to blame – this is the thought that should be instilled in their minds. On the other hand, taking responsibility means that you acknowledge what took place and accept it. Ironically, this simple mechanism is hard to fulfill and that is because we feel that we could have done something about it which could have helped avert it. Do not forget that suicide (except when linked to clinical causes) is the responsibility of the one who committed it. He/She has the consciousness of such action and is well aware of the consequences. To put it bluntly, do not take the full responsibility of an action that you did not even commit or not even a part of. Acceptance is really tough, but you need to get through it for your sake and the one who did it.

So how do you deal with that lingering guilt? One way is by directly telling yourself that it is not your fault. Say this to yourself repeatedly – write it again and again. Any outlet that would make you feel aware of such would be helpful. You can also seek the help of a grief counselor. At times like this, a great sounding board would help in brushing off the emotions that you need not to bear and a professional is greatly apt. Finally, make it a point to realize that unlike that person, suicide was never your choice and instead, you opted to choose life. Staying strong by being acknowledging and living your life would be more beneficial in the long run. If you are someone you know is having suicidal thoughts please seek help: List of Canadian Suicide Hotlines