Bereavement due to suicide

Finding out

Most of the people we talked to had learnt of the death from the police, and most found the police helpful and courteous. Usually people received this news at home, but one man found out about his sister’s death when he went to the police station because she was missing. Some people were expecting to hear bad news by the time the police arrived at the house. Others were utterly shocked (see ‘First Reactions’).

A few people, especially those who had lost loved ones many years ago, said that the policemen who arrived at the door seemed ill equipped to deal with such a difficult situation.
The police were not always the ones who broke the bad news. Bob’s wife, Lynda, had a phone call and heard that their son, Darren, had died in France. It came from one of Darren’s friends. When Bob got home and heard the news he thought there must be some mistake. They phoned the local police and asked them to find out if it was true. Bob thought that the French police should have informed them through the official channel.
 
Susan received a phone call from her husband. He said that one of her sons was going to visit her. Susan insisted on finding out why her son was about to visit because he never visited her during the week, so her husband gave her the terrible news that a second son had died due to suicide. She was on her own and collapsed on the floor, devastated.
 
People may not be certain that someone they love has died until they identify the body (also see ‘Seeing the body or not being able to do so’). Lucreta had to identify her daughter at the mortuary. The bad news came from the welfare officer at work.
Dolores was taken to the hospital by the police. She had no idea that her husband was critically ill. After waiting an hour she learnt that he had died from the injuries he sustained when he jumped from the bridge.
A few of the people we talked to had discovered the body of the person who had died. This was a shocking experience which left vivid memories.
People may have a little time to adjust to the possibility that someone they love may be dead or may be about to die. Ann’s friend was missing for a month before she was found by a man and his dog when walking in the fields. Nina and her family had three days to say “good-bye” to Joe before he died in the intensive care unit.
Sometimes people are told that an accident has occurred and only later discover that the death was due to suicide.

Last reviewed January 2015.

Last updated October 2012.

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