After a Suicide, Sibling Survivors Are Often Overlooked
September 15, 2017
Until recently, the experiences of sibling suicide loss survivors have been poorly understood. Research shows that individuals who have lost a brother or sister to suicide are at increased risk for complicated grief, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal thoughts. However, many sibling survivors report feeling overlooked by friends and family after a suicide death and do not receive the mental health support that they need. “I think people don’t understand how profound a loss of a sibling can be,” said psychologist and American Association of Suicidology President Julie Cerel. “[Siblings] help shape your trajectory and sense of self.” Mental health experts encourage parents to look for signs of distress in sibling survivors, such as anxiety or guilt, and to talk with them about their feelings. Seeking immediate treatment from a mental health specialist who works with suicide loss survivors can help minimize the risk of long-term negative health consequences. Some experts are also recommending that pediatricians be provided with tools to identify and respond to trauma, including suicide.
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