Suicide: The Immediate Aftermath

It’s Just Happened

If you’ve recently learned that someone you care about has taken their own life you are probably feeling shocked and wondering how this could have happened. It’s important that you know you are not alone, and that there are services and people who can help you to begin processing your emotions and meet your immediate needs.

This page has information about where to go for practical, immediate help and also offers some things to consider in the weeks and months ahead.

Emergency Contacts

In the aftermath of a suicide, you may find that you must deal with the coroner, the police and the funeral home. You may find this overwhelming. If you feel the need for counselling and crisis support, you may find these with the coronial services, life line or other support services in your local community. We have listed a few services which you may find beneficial.

Beyond Blue (24 hours): 1300 22 4636

Lifeline (24 hours): 13 11 14

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

Salvos Counselling:

  • Batemans Bay and Ulladulla – (02) 6248 5504
  • Campbelltown – (02) 4731 1554
  • Gosford – 0418 633 732
  • Penrith – (02) 4731 1554
  • Sydney – (02) 9743 2831

Immediate Practicalities

After you have lost a loved one to suicide, you will be making funeral arrangements in the coming days and weeks. If you need help and support, the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing provides information and support packs for people in each state.

You should make your funeral arrangements to suit what you need. Consider whether you wish to view or not view the body; this is up to you and suits different people. Listen to yourself. Making funeral arrangements can be challenging, but they can also begin the healing process. Your funeral home should be compassionate and helpful and be willing to answer your questions.

You may have children who are affected by the death of a loved one by suicide. It can be challenging to explain and guide them through the initial stages of grief. If you would like some assistance in communicating with children, Communicating with Children issued by NSW Health may help you. You may find that involving friends and other family members can help you deal with children affected by grief.

At the funeral for your loved one you may find one of the most challenging things is how the suicide is addressed at the funeral. Some people wish to talk about it and others do not. This can present difficulties within a family when dealing with funeral arrangements and further distress loved ones. Some religious orders can present difficulties when dealing with the funeral rite of someone who has died by suicide, and this can be deeply distressing to loved ones. In most cases, your spiritual leader will respond to the death of your loved one with respect and compassion.

There is often a stigma associated with death by suicide in society, and this can also present a challenge to loved ones in the immediate aftermath of a suicide. Try to remember to look after your own health and wellbeing, and ask for support when you need it from loved ones, friends and professionals.