Chapter Two: Understand the Essentials of the Loss of a Loved One by Suicide
As part of dealing with suicide loss, and reaching out to children and teens after a loved one’s self-inflicted death, an understanding of the various factors that may have contributed to the suicide of a family member or friend is crucial. You will be asked questions that include the words “why” and “how.”
When it comes to suicide, being able to fully, honestly explain the why and how is challenging. You may never be able to provide a fully satisfactory answer to these types of questions – because so often such an answer in the aftermath of a suicide is impossible to come by.
Understanding the limitations on understanding the underlying reasons for suicide, health factors oftentimes do contribute to a person’s decision to take his or her life. These include mental health conditions like:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bi-polar disorder
- Personality disorders (like borderline personality disorder)
Physical health issues can also play an underlying role in a person making a decision to take his or her life. For example, a person may be enduring chronic pain. He or she may have been diagnosed with a serious, chronic health condition.
Finally, a health factor that underlies a notable percentage of suicides is a traumatic brain injury. The limitations on a person’s life that can be associated with this type of condition can leave a person feeling as if the only solution is to end his or her life.
One of a trio of historical factors oftentimes is in the background of a person who commits suicide. These are:
- Previous suicide attempt or attempts
- Family history of suicide
- Abused as a child
Suicide doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The reality is that what can fairly be described as “environmental factors” nearly always play some sort of contributing role in a person’s decision to take his or her life.
One category of environmental factors that can underpin a suicide is the prolonged presence of profound stressors. These include:
- Financial issues
- Relationship problems
- Ongoing harassment
In addition to the presence of ongoing stressors, a particular life event may be so significant that it compels a person to commit suicide. These include:
- Job loss
- Death of a loved one
Exposure of a person to another individual’s suicide can be a motivating factor in a decision to take one’s own like. The suicide of iconic fashion designer Kate Spade is an example of exposure to another person’s suicide seemingly playing a role in an individual’s decision to end his or her life.
According to some people in Kate Spade’s life, the designer developed an extreme interest in the suicide of comedian Robin Williams. Indeed, according to some reports, Spade was “glued” to media reports about Williams’ suicide.
Finally, when it comes to environmental considerations and suicide, having access to a particular lethal means to commit suicide makes taking one’s own life more likely to occur. While it is true that when a person makes a decision to end his or her life, he or she will find the means. However, when there is even a bit of a lapse in time between making the decision to commit suicide and producing the means to do it, the firm determination to proceed can wane, at least for the time being.
Examples of access to lethal means to commit suicide commonly include: