When someone may have died by suicide the grieving process can often be more complex, intense and longer, although the actual experiences of grief may be similar to other bereavements. Death by suicide is particularly shocking because it goes against our natural survival instinct that we should live and thrive. The suddenness and nature of the death can be deeply upsetting or harrowing and hard to make sense of. Some people feel a social taboo in discussing suicide, which can make it an even more difficult topic to talk about openly.

When a child dies by suicide

Death can be particularly difficult to understand or make sense of when it is sudden or unexpected. When your child dies by suicide is likely to be extremely difficult to face and to understand. There can be specific challenges for the whole family, and for children and young people when grieving after a suicide.

Supporting a child after someone dies by suicide

Supporting your child when someone has died by suicide can be difficult when you are in shock and grieving yourself and it can be very difficult to talk about what has happened. Adults often want to protect children from the truth and may worry about explaining suicide, as they do not want children to realise someone can choose to end their own life. However, children are much more able to deal with difficult events if they are given open and honest, age-appropriate information, time for questions and space to express their feelings.  See our resource for more on telling a child that someone has died.

For a young person, the death of a friend by suicide can be a huge shock and a devastating experience. The traumatic nature of the death, often coupled with a lack of information to explain why your friend ended their own life, can make grieving complicated and confusing.

What happens if a coroner needs to be involved?

If a coroner is involved, or there is a need for a post-mortem examination, this may affect the options of seeing the body of the person who has died, or it can delay arrangements for a funeral. This can make it very hard to believe what has happened or to start to grieve. There may also be media attention, which can be particularly distressing and intrusive to the family.

Things that may help include knowing how to contact the professionals involved who can keep you informed, such as a Coroner’s Officer or Family Liaison Officer; having a friend or contact who may be able to help you keep in touch with agencies or liaise on your behalf; and being able to talk to someone – family and friends, or someone neutral such as a bereavement support professional on our Helpline

For more on what happens in a Coroners’ Court, The Ministry of Justice has produced a guide to coroner services for bereaved people.

The Coroners' Court Support Service is an independent voluntary organisation whose trained volunteers offer emotional support and practical help to bereaved families, witnesses and others attending an Inquest at a Coroner’s Court.

Visit our page: How we can support you for more on our services.

You can also call our Helpline 0800 02 888 40, email [email protected], or use Live Chat on our website.