Youth Blog – Surviving the Loss of a Friend to Suicide

Published: June 19, 2014

LGBT People Are Survivors

You may have heard the statistics: LGBT youth experience higher rates of bullyingviolence, and suicide [1]. But we’re not just victims, we are a community of survivors. This blog talks about surviving the loss of someone you love to suicide, including some tips that others have found helpful. Think of it as a roadmap, a list of things you might run into on your journey.

1. It’s Not Just You, This Is Hard. Losing someone you love to suicide is really difficult. Some people who experience this call themselves asuicide loss survivor. Stigma around suicide can make it hard to talk about. Losing an LGBT friend, partner, or sibling to suicide comes with unique challenges. You may feel like no one can understand what you’re going through.

2. Your Loss Is Real. Sometimes those who lose an LGBT friend or partner to suicide aren’t included as “family,” or close relatives. This can be painful, especially if the person’s biological family was not always supportive. Other people in your life may wonder why the loss is so difficult if you are “not family.” For LGBTQ people, “family” can mean far more than just “blood relative.” Know that your relationship with that person was unique and important.

3. Your Feelings Are Important. An LGBT suicide loss survivor may be thinking about suicide themselves (If this is you, skip to the end for more info!). Many people who lose someone to suicide can experience depression after a loss. Reach out to those who support you in tough times.

4. You Are Not Responsible. Many suicide loss survivors may feel shame or guilt over the loss. Survivors may feel like they need to keep their sexuality or relationship secret. While these feelings are common after a suicide, it’s important for you to know that what happened was not your fault, and there are people who can support you.

5. Find a Safe Space to Share. Supportive family and friends can be a source of strength, especially if you can talk to them about the loss. However, if they can’t be supportive, think about finding a Survivors of Suicide Group, or online support group. These groups are all about sharing experiences and providing hope and are usually free and open to all. If you’re not ready to talk about the loss, that’s okay too!

6. Celebrate your loved ones. On important dates (like a birthday) gather friends to share memories. Some people have found journaling or writing letters to your lost loved one can help you remember the good times.

7. You Are Resilient. Despite all these challenges, know that there is hope. You might not “get over it” or “get better” right away, but you canfind new ways of living and remembering. Resilience and survival isn’t about “being strong,” it’s about adapting to difficult and unexpected changes. You didn’t choose this journey of grief, but you have many different paths to find and follow: paths to healing, honoring, and surviving.

Resources for the Tough Times: If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there are options for you to talk, text, or chat with someone who is there to listen.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) is free and available 24/7.

The Trevor Lifeline (866-488-7386) is a space to call and find immediate support. You can also TrevorText with a trained counselor on Fridays between 4pm-8pm EST by texting “Trevor” to 202-304-1200.

If you are looking to talk to someone who has experienced a similar loss, reach out to the Survivor Outreach Program, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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