The Suicidal Context for Families
After a person has committed suicide, everything stops. We can no longer see them and our relationship with their relatives transforms somewhat. We share their pain and suffering, which they carry on long after the coroner's inquest into their lives.
Relatives will feel anger and sadness, which never seems to end. They have to face life without their lives one, often not knowing what they left. Other family members and friends may find this loss is too much.
There is always hope and there is always a way back in life, even in this present age.
The focus of this article is really families before the the person has died. In our work with young people, we want to learn how each family adapts to the reality of a teenager or young person trapped in depression with suicidal thinking.
Many parents are naturally afraid. After a young person has taken an overdose, parents are most scared, but over the course of time parents feel better able to cope with this anxiety if well supported by mental health professionals.
Family therapy has a role in discerning the family transactions that are useful in helping a young person who is afraid in a suicidal context.
If a young person is alone in their room then they may be communicating on line or by text with friends, but disconnected from their family.
Many years ago the Danish Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Dr Søren Hertz, taught at the Institute of Family Therapy, London, and impressed on us thus idea of 'connectedness.' We need to feel connected to each other in our families and in our relationships. If a family is best by a member who is suicidal, then the family needs to adjust to connecting with this personal complete. In so doing the family must free themselves from feeling paralysed by the fear of impending suicide, which can profoundly affect relations between family members.
If a young person is not talking to their parents who are afraid of suicide, then this young person may feel under great pressure, thinking that suicide is inevitable.
Such a tragedy is NOT inevitable and young people and parents have responsibilities to each other to talk, problem solve and to make plans to create safety and happiness with the family at a difficult time.Itust be possible for a family to harness their positive resources in order to recover, find hope and support the young person in the right way, without fear and anxiety if but with hope and strength of purpose.
'I love you and together we are going to get through this. '