In the United States, some one takes his or her life about every 17 minutes. When a person takes his or her life, others are left in the aftermath of the suicide to come to terms with their own grief at such a tremendous loss. Aftershock: Help, Hope and Healing in the Wake of Suicide is marketed as a book designed to support people in their grief following the suicide of a family member of other loved one.

Upfront, it is vital to note that this book is written to reach out to a very specific audience. It is written for people who fairly can be categorized fundamentalist Christians who’ve lost a family member or perhaps a member of their religious congregation to suicide. In short, although this book is included among others dealing with grieving after suicide, it simply is not intended for everyone.

The Concept of Sin and Suicide

Many religious organizations have abandoned the long-held belief that suicide is a significant sin. Even some of the Christian faiths with more traditional doctrines have moved from the concept that a person who takes his or her life has committed a grievous sin. There has been growing recognition that beyond being a religious doctrine such a position has proven harmful to more than a few survivors of suicide loss. These religiously faithful individuals were finding their grief at the loss of a loved one by suicide compounded by a doctrine that raised the specter that their deceased family member or friend would not find eternal salvation.

The Gift of Second: Healing from the Impact of Suicide is written from the perspective of a writer that does accept (at least to some degree) the concept of suicide as being a serious sin. Indeed, the author uses the term “self-murder” to describe the act of taking one’s own life.

Religion, Grief, and Suicide

Based on the purported interrelationship between suicide and sin, the book does address issues surrounding not only grieving after suicide but also discusses religious faith and the doctrine of sin in the aftermath of a loved one dying by suicide. The author contends that part of successfully grieving the suicide of a family member necessitates in part an examination of the religious impact of such a death.

Noting this feature of the book, other elements are similar to what is presented in more secular texts about grieving after suicide and embarking on a health bereavement process. The book does address dealing with issues like depression, anxiety, and shame. The discussion of shame, however, does have a notable overlay of religiosity.

LGBTQ Victims of Suicide

Members of the LGBTQ community have a suicide rate that is above the national average. The suicide rate among youthful members of the LGBTQ community particularly outpaces the national average among their generational peers.

The Gift of Second: Healing from the Impact of Suicide has been described by more than a few people as taking a “draconian approach” to the subject of sexual orientation. Although the book does address healing from the suicide (self-murder, as the author calls it) of a LGBTQ youth, it does so from the starting point that same sex attraction is both a choice and sinful.

About the Author

The author of The Gift of Second: Healing from the Impact of Suicide, Dr. David Cox, has a bachelor’s degree in religion, a master’s degree in divinity, and a doctorate in ministry. He has no specific educational background in grief counseling or therapy, including in regard to people grieving after suicide. The focus of his doctorate in ministry, however, was on suicide intervention.

With that said, he has spent a considerable amount of time in his professional career in the arena of suicide intervention and counseling. His efforts in this area brought him to the national forefront when he testified at the Susan Smith murder trial in 1995 on the effects of suicide on surviving children. Smith is the mother who drove a car containing her children into a lake, taking their lives. He has also founded a local chapter of the more “mainstream” Survivors of Suicide (SOS) support group in his hometown.


The Gift of Second: Healing from the Impact of Suicide has a broad readership. For this reason, when discussing some of the more widely read books on healthy bereavement and grieving after suicide, it demands recognition. With that said, in fairness there must be a caveat that this text truly is designed for that segment of the community that does hold fundamental Christian views.