Suicide and Overdose
Anguish Caused by Suicide
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in American society (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Many prevention programs appropriately focus on teenagers, however, the highest number of suicides in the U.S. in 2015 occurred among people ages 45-54. At the Center, we believe suicide should be considered a public health crisis.
In terms of survivors and families of victims, the anguish caused by a suicide is characterized by persistent questions and tortured emotional consequences. The resultant trauma often derails and/or compromises survivors’ natural grief and mourning processes, rendering them haunted and stuck, reliving and reviewing what they could or should have done differently, and overwhelmed by the what-ifs that attack them when defenses are down. Grievers vividly discuss their guilt, rage, powerlessness, and many other intense emotions that can interfere with daily functioning and cause symptoms of serious distress.
The Center’s grief counselors are equipped to provide the safe and nurturing holding environment needed to begin getting through the initial phases of shock and protest, but also reconstructing a life guided by new realities and causes. Through years of experience and meeting with many individuals dealing with suicide loss, we know the intricate and deep reality that the long haul of adjusting to the world after suicide is one of the hardest experiences to endure in a life time. However, with consistent and reliable empathic and meaningful support, clients learn to slowly submit to the healing processes of grief and mourning and re-engage in life.
Grieving Loss Due to Overdose
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids—nearly double in a decade.
The Center supports the pragmatism of Social Work’s person-in-environment perspective, which is built upon two pillars: social justice and personal transformation.
In the case of survivors confronting the loss of a loved one who has died due to drug overdose, our therapists can help provide the structure needed to slow down and begin to process the many shattering effects. All grievers are alike in many respects in that they often need to find a professional—outside of their family or friendship circle—with whom they can express and explore their feelings.
But drug overdose leading to death brings with it a certain kind of pain. It isn’t uncommon, for example, for a griever to have known of a friend who was showing signs of overdosing, but others did not clearly know or perceive what was occurring. Drugs have different strengths and side-effects, and unless one is a medical professional, it would be hard to know when to intervene.
While the Center is not a social advocacy agency and our therapists are not certified to work with individuals abusing drugs, we do often work alongside providers who do and are, sharing our expertise in bereavement and life-adjustment challenges. Moreover, our grief counselors can help those who are bereaved in the aftermath of a tragic drug overdose.
Suicide is one of the ways we die. Those left behind struggle to decode past conversations in which casual words and observations now carry malignant meaning and every remembered pause seems a lost opportunity. It does not help to know that 800,000 die of suicide each...