If you are experiencing sucidal thoughts and need to speak with someone please call or text Talk Suicide Canada | Text 45645 | Call 1.833.456.4566.

You are currently on the:

CMHA National

Visit our provincial websites

November 18 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

November 18 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.

A loss through suicide is like no other. 

Knowing what to say or how to help someone coping with this type of loss can be daunting, but don’t let fear of saying or doing the wrong thing prevent you from reaching out to suicide loss survivors.

Just as you would after any other death, express your concern, pitch in with practical tasks, and listen to whatever the person wants to tell you.

Here are some recommendations to help you support someone who has lost a loved one to suicide. 

** You can also share Hope and Healing: An Emotional and Practical Guide for Survivors of Suicide Loss with them. This guide has been written with the help of many suicide survivors and focuses on the practical and emotional matters that survivors need to deal with after a suicide. **


Stay close. Families often feel stigmatized and cut off after a suicide. If you avoid contact because you don’t know what to say or do, family members may feel blamed and isolated. Whatever your doubts, make contact. Survivors learn to forgive awkward behaviors or clumsy statements, as long as your support and compassion are evident.

Avoid hollow reassurance. It’s not comforting to hear well-meant assurances that “things will get better” or “at least he’s no longer suffering.” Instead, the bereaved may feel that you don’t want to acknowledge or hear them express their pain and grief.

Don’t ask for an explanation. Survivors often feel as though they’re being grilled: Was there a note? Did you suspect anything? The survivor may be searching for answers, but your role for the foreseeable future is simply to be supportive and listen to what they have to say about the person, the death, and their feelings.

Remember their life. Suicide isn’t the most important thing about the person who died. Share memories and stories; use the person’s name (“Remember when Brian taught my daughter how to ride a two-wheeler?”). If suicide has come at the end of a long struggle with mental or physical illness, be aware that the family may want to recognize the ongoing illness as the true cause of death.

Acknowledge uncertainty. Survivors are not all alike. Even if you are a suicide survivor yourself, don’t assume that another person’s feelings and needs will be the same as yours. It’s fine to say you can’t imagine what this is like or how to help. 

Follow the survivor’s lead when broaching sensitive topics: “Would you like to talk about what happened?” (Ask only if you’re willing to listen to the details.) Even a survivor who doesn’t want to talk will appreciate that you asked.

Help with the practical things. Offer to run errands, provide rides to appointments, or watch over children. Ask if you can help with chores such as watering the garden, walking the dog, or putting away groceries. The survivor may want you to sit quietly, or perhaps pray, with him or her. Ask directly, “What can I do to help?” 

Additional Resources for survivors of suicide loss:

Support Groups

Survivors of Suicide Peer Support Group
Contact: George Tomie
Phone: (902) 445-0860
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.SOSnovascotia.com


Grief Refuge- Grief Refuge is a daily companion to help navigate your grief journey. The app helps create safe and sacred space to explore grief related feelings, learn helpful ways to cope, and find peace and purpose after loss. Features include daily reflections, intention setting, stories from people who have found healing in their grief, and a tool for tracking ‘progress’. Grief Refuge is the source of solace and comfort for the lonely and isolating journey in grief.

Goodgrief – Goodgrief is the social network for loss. Goodgrief is for people ages 18 and up. Goodgrief works by putting you in touch with others who lost their spouse, parent, sibling, child, relative, or friend due to a variety of causes. Create a private profile by answering questions related to your loss. Then, connect to other people through a one-on-one in-app texting service. Your private information is never seen publicly and chats are private and secure. Additional filters narrow your connections by age, gender, religion, time frame, and type and cause of loss. Start chatting today. If you or someone you know needs this app, join our community. You are not alone.




Sources: Suicide in Canada, Harvard Health, Preventing and Reducing Risk of Suicide

Skip to content