What Not to Say to Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One to Suicide

November 04, 2022

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


Experts offer advice for supporting a survivor of suicide loss. Listen with empathy and non-judgment; how you listen is more important than what you say. If they express interest in professional support, offer to help them find it. They may struggle to think through what practical help they need, so offer to handle specific tasks for them, such as grocery shopping. Suicide is complex, so try not to imply that their loved one’s death happened for a reason or that they could have prevented it. Avoid giving advice, talking about yourself, or projecting your beliefs onto theirs. Say the name of the person who died and share memories of them; focus on the way they lived instead of how they died. Above all, just be there. “Social connection is a key protective factor against suicide, so if you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, keep showing up, reaching out, and being there for them,” said Kim Torguson, director of engagement and communications at the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

Spark Extra! Learn more about supporting survivors of suicide loss.