I have worked with many people in your situation – a family member, especially a parent, has completed suicide, and my (counselling) client fears there’s a risk that they are somehow pre-determined to follow this path too. It is however important to acknowledge that in some ways your experience, combined with the fact you are asking this question, can have the opposite effect and mean you are less likely to suicide. I acknowledge here that there is evidence for a higher rate of risk among people who have lost a parent to suicide, which can be attributed to various factors that differ in each case – eg inherited poor coping behaviours, the ‘permission’ the parent’s act gives combined with the emotional trauma the child now carries, and so on. However, I have worked with bereaved people who have suffered serious depression through their life, including past hospitalisation in psychiatric wards, and who have come to me with their depression under control but having now lost a partner to suicide. Often such people are scared that because of their powerful grief their depression will resurface, they will be overwhelmed, and they might become suicidal. Now, while this is not research, but it is my repeated experience, that many of these people prove in the long run to be safe precisely because they are mindful in advance of the potential risks to their emotional well-being and will to live. Our counselling work includes them ‘getting in early’: developing good mental health practices and a knowledge of how to assess their own emotional well-being. This is why I say that in your case – for example you are asking this question as an act of ‘getting in early’ – there is the opportunity to decrease the risk of emotional disorder and suicide risk. For example you could do this through attending counselling with this goal, or through the application of good reading that helps you develop cognitive, behavioural, life-style and other (spiritual? social?) strategies for good emotional health. Of course Healthshare professionals can help answer any further questions about where to start….
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