One of the hardest tragedy to face is the loss of a sibling by suicide.
Loss of a sibling – Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
I lost my brother to suicide nearly 11 years ago. He was 34 and I worked with him in a fireplace business. When a job opportunity came along for me to work in America for 5 months, he told me to go and pursue my dreams. On coming home I found his business had gone bankrupt, he had lost his home, and his marriage had broken up. He had disappeared, and although a friend of his told me he had gone on holiday, five weeks had gone by and I was quite worried about him. I broke into his flat and found he hadn’t gone away at all. He had hung himself and he had been there for 5 weeks. There I was, with my brother hanging in front of me – and he was totally unrecognisable. I was frozen to the spot. It was a moment which changed my life forever. Police came and took me home. My wife Joy, to whom I am eternally grateful for sticking by me through my darkest days, took me to my Doctor and explained to him what I’d found. He recommended a long walk. If I’d started walking as he suggested, I might never have stopped (and yes, I changed my GP). Years of private counselling sessions which cost a fortune never satisfied my troubled mind. After 8 years I found SOBS completely by accident on the internet. I rang the helpline and I spoke to a woman called Jennie – another person to whom I’m eternally thankful. After speaking to Jennie, it felt like I’d been let out of prison – my own prison. I had found someone who truly understood my feelings and helped me feel normal again. I realised I wasn’t going mad after all. I was grieving for a brother who died tragically. I phoned Jennie on many occasions and travelled to her support group an hour and a half drive from my home. I am truly thankful to her and to SOBS and what they did for me. Looking back, I realise just how far I’ve come without truly knowing it. I know there are people like me out there who need help to cope with the awful feeling of isolation that suicide brings. I shout about SOBS to all who will listen. John, another survivor, said, “It’s a long and winding road”. Never have truer words been spoken. Seeing the people who get involved with SOBS who are themselves on that road, and who want to give something back, gives me a good feeling.
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Life begets life but not with suicide. Sibling suicide loss increases the risk of suicide.
Sibling Loss Increases Risk of Suicide
Losing a family member is one of the hardest things a person can experience. Many families pull apart and suffer extreme emotional distress after the loss of a child or parent. This is especially true if the loss is sudden and from an accident or suicide. But even anticipated deaths, like those resulting from terminal illnesses such as cancer, can cause immense emotional pain that some people cannot easily overcome.
Although research in this area is extensive, another type of loss that can have similarly negative effects has not been examined nearly enough. When a person loses a sibling, the results can be equally as devastating, and in fact, some believe even more difficult than losing a parent or other family member. Siblings often represent the longest friendship and closest relationship many people have had.
When a sibling dies, the effect can be traumatic and even life-threatening if the death is sudden. People can become easily depressed when they are overwhelmed with grief. These emotions, if not reconciled, can put someone at risk for suicide.
Read More: Sibling Loss Increases Risk of Suicide
Practical advice when your sibling contemplates suicide.
What to Do When Your Brother or Sister is Suicidal: How to Support …
Owing to complicated family dynamics, it might be difficult to recognize the signs of suicidal behavior. But understanding that there are common signs even for your sister or brother, you can be a source of support. The unique understanding that siblings have with each other can help you talk to them about receiving professional help and treatment.
Rebekah and her brother Scott had what you could call a typical sibling relationship. There were times they got along great: a history of shared experiences, the inside jokes developed on catastrophic family vacations, and the childhood memories housed under the same roof led to easy conversation in a shared language. Of course, there were times when they didn’t get along, too. Normal rivalries and jealousies led to grudges. Rebekah never got over the feeling her brother got more attention, which is why when he started to exhibit symptoms of depression and signs of suicidal tendencies, she initially overlooked and dismissed them.
When a brother or sister is suicidal, we often have difficulty knowing how to react, or how to interpret their behavior as an autonomous individual in need of help. But many times, the sibling relationship can be crucial in getting people the help they need.
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