Suicide Survivor: Meaning, Support, & Recovery

Meaning of Suicide Survivor

Even as a peer recovery specialist, helping multiple individuals needing help because of death because of suicide or them thinking about it themselves. I never really knew how it felt to be a suicide survivor. My first thought when I heard that phrase was “they changed their mind on committing suicide?”.

          I was wrong, 100% wrong. It is a phrase for people who have experienced family members or friends who have committed suicide. As pointed out before at that time I did not know the true feelings of a suicide survivor.

          That changed in the summer of 2020. I had a family member who committed suicide. From all the classes I took such as Asist (Applied suicide intervention skills training), WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) facilitator training, Mental Health First Aid, and my personal experience of saving a friend from committing suicide earlier in my life. I truly did not know the truth.

 I talked to individuals at work and reminded them that it was not their fault that their family member or friend committed suicide. I talk about how people are willing to do that, hiding it from others for a reason. I pointed out multiple times that those individuals had narrower minds than normal when they came close and closer to committing suicide or they did commit suicide. On paper and in words it sounds easy to understand and just takes strength to recover from it.


          What I didn’t know and understand was, it was much harder to get relief from the thoughts of “What could I have done?” or “Why didn’t I notice?” than I ever thought it was.

I learn the hard way by experiencing my family member doing just that. The thoughts and feelings that people had at the Wellness Center where I worked, because of suicide were much more complicated and extremely difficult to deal with than I thought.

As a suicide survivor myself now, I understand much better. I heard the stages of being a suicide survivor before grief, anger, rejection, abandonment, and fault and now I know how they feel. It is pointed out in an article written by Harvard Health Publishing on the website,  On that website, there is a quote “Suicide can shatter the things you take for granted about yourself, your relationships, and your world” says Dr. Jordan. Just reading that article for information to refer to on this blog made me almost start crying in the public library where I authored this article.

In the city of Clinton, which is within 30 miles of the small town I live in, there is a support group for suicide survivors, called Speak Out Against Suicide.  Those kinds of groups can be useful for people with the experience of a loved one committing suicide. I have found that those support groups are immensely helpful. It is amazing to me, on how much just going to a few meetings with other people who have had family or friends who commit suicide has really helped me.

People relate and understand my situation better than any other person I personally know, it is a great source of support for me. The leader of my support group has their own story of a loved one committing suicide and it makes it more believable that they understand.


Groups and Foundations such as In which is the website for the American Foundation for suicide prevention. Alliances for Hope for suicide survivors or American Association of Suicidology All and more are especially useful for people with the experience of being a suicide survivor.

With all the information that I have learned from peer support and these websites, I feel calmer, but I still have the tension to even talk about it truthfully to others. My peer support provider helps a lot. (Definition of Peer support)

My family has different opinions of this and grief in their own way, but what I have learned is that my family thinks and feels differently. I know now that there are people who have felt similar and understand this much better than my family and that I am not alone like I use to believe. Always remember that you are not alone, there is support out there.

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