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Supporting Survivors of Suicide Loss

Ways to Help

  • Acknowledge the loss
  • Ask if and how you can help
  • Encourage expressing feelings/being open
  • Be patient/don’t create a timeline for healing
  • Listen without judgement
  • Don’t disappear

What to Say

It’s important to note that talking about suicide does not cause someone to act on suicidal thoughts. 

Helpful Things to Say:
  • “I hear you say this is…”
  • “I am here for you.”
  • “It’s natural to feel all kinds of emotions when you have lost someone. What is it like for you?” 
What Not to Say:
  • “Everything happens for a reason.”
  • “They are in a better place.”
  • “Now their suffering is over.”
  • “I understand what you’re going through.” 

Asking About Suicide

Suicide Contagion: Suicide risk is associated with the knowledge of another person’s suicidal behavior, either first-hand or through the media. Suicides that may be at least partially caused by contagion are sometimes called “copycat” suicides. 

Be direct! 
Questions to ask someone who is suicidal: 
  • “Are you thinking about suicide?” 
  • “What means/ways would you act on your suicidal thoughts?”
  • “When would you act on these thoughts?”
  • “How likely are you to act on these thoughts in the next 24 hours?” 

The “Safe for Now” Model

No one is always safe from suicide.

Serious depressive states and suicidal thinking can happen to anyone at any time in the future. 

Instead, clinicians often focus on the concept of “safe for now,” where the goal is to try to help the person through the next 24-48 hours while connecting them to long-term resources. 

Examples of Short-Term Resources

  • Suicide Lifelines or Crisis lines
  • Mobile Crisis Units
  • Emergency crisis counseling
  • Evaluation at a hospital
  • Family/friends staying with the person
  • Removing means from the home
  • Staying at a crisis stabilization unit or home


Examples of Long-Term Resources

  • Grief counseling
  • General therapy/counseling
  • Faith-based counseling
  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Medication management
  • Planned family/friend gatherings
  • Support groups
  • Reviewing safety plans
  • Building strong relationships and support systems
  • “Connection to life” supports like meaningful employment or hobbies
  • Healthy exercise & diet

Resources at CommUnity

You can call or text CommUnity’s crisis line at 1-855-325-4296 or chat at We also offer our Mobile Crisis Outreach program, which sends counselors out in the community to where a mental health crisis is occurring. For a list of Crisis Services available at CommUnity, visit