Matthew Neuman and the Helena IR need to be thanked for the three part series on the effects of suicide on families. The tragic effects on families who have lost someone to suicide has been avoided for too long. The two leading predictors of suicide are number one, anyone with a previous suicide attempt is the most likely to have a successful suicide. After an unsuccessful suicide attempt we do not support the individual and see that person receives adequate and appropriate mental health care. The second leading predictor of suicide is that if your family has had a member commit suicide. People who have lost a family member to suicide need our support, understanding and compassion. Too often we avoid them because we don’t know what to say. Hurtful comments about closure and you should be over it by now are extremely painful. When you lose a family member to suicide closure never happens, you think about it every day, you have “survivor’s guilt,” and you remember your lost family member every day.
Dr. Gary Mihelish is president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Helena.