What happens to people left behind by a suicide?

The news that Mick Jagger’s partner of 13 years, L’Wren Scott, has committed suicide prompted much speculation.  How could such an outwardly successful woman – the beautiful, long-term girlfriend of a rock star with her own respected fashion design business – feel such despair she could contemplate ending her own life?
No one will know for sure what demons drove L’Wren Scott to a tragically early death at 49. All we can be certain of is that she reached a place of such darkness and lack of hope that life was no longer a tolerable option.
Endless questions go unanswered
For the family and friends who are left behind, coming to terms with the suicide of someone you love is like entering a foreign country with no map, no guide and no idea of the language that is spoken. Endless questions go unanswered as you are thrown into your own pit of sadness, loss and grief.
Some experience suicide as an aggressive act
Some people feel huge rage at the person who has died. One woman I know described it as ‘the most acrimonious kind of divorce’. She was left by her husband’s suicide feeling abandoned, uncared for and utterly bewildered. Some people experience suicide as an aggressive act: ‘how could they do this to me?’ Others feel weighed down by guilt and shame that they did not manage to prevent it; or even guess that it might happen.
The broadcaster and journalist, Libby Purves, has spoken with courage and fortitude about the suicide of her son, Nicholas, at the age of 23 in 2006. She was determined that Nicholas’ life should not be deprived of its meaning because it was short; and that their family would not be blighted and joyless forever. She and her husband, the former TV journalist, Paul Heiney, and their daughter, Rose, published a book of Nicholas’ journals and poetry, The Silence at the Song’s End*, which reveals a young man possessed of a remarkably sensitive and enduring wisdom.
Libby Purves told one interviewer: “There is no solution to grief … You go through a long tunnel, sometimes very narrow and dark, sometimes broad with glass roofs, but you’re still in it, you’re always going to be in it, because it happened.”
No matter what your response, if you have been affected by suicide, there is support available if you think it might help. These websites in the UK and US offer advice and links to helplines and online forums:
  • Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
  • The Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors
*The Silence at the Song’s End by Nicholas Heiney is £12.95