When to Seek Professional Help for Suicide Grief

Most people dealing with suicide grief start getting back on their feet within a few months. Nevertheless, grief can be a major source of stress and can lead to problems such as psychological distress, suicidal thoughts, complicated and persistent grief, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. It’s important to seek professional health if your mental heath is deteriorating.

How to identify psychological distress

Psychological distress is a temporary state of imbalance that can be caused by a stressful event. 

Here are some possible signs:

  • Intense bouts of anger or sudden mood swings
  • Nervousness or restlessness
  • Inconsolable sadness or a lack of emotion
  • Loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping much more than usual
  • Significant weight loss or gain over a short period of time
  • Failure to take medication
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Withdrawal and isolation

How to identify suicidal thoughts

Suicidal thoughts act as a warning signal indicating that your mental health is deteriorating.

They can take many forms, including:

suicide grief - suicidal thoughts

  • Considering suicide as a solution to your problems
  • Having fleeting thoughts of taking your own life
  • Having a sudden urge to take your own life
  • Being tormented by the idea of suicide
  • Planning your own suicide (how, when, where)

How to recognize complicated and persistent grief

People dealing with grief usually see a decrease in the intensity of their emotions during the first year. If not, it’s possible that your grief has become complicated.

Here are some signs of complicated and persistent grief:

  • Feeling intense grief and pain
  • Having serious concerns about the deceased or the circumstances of their death
  • Having serious difficulty accepting the death
  • Experiencing difficulties caused by positive memories of the deceased
  • Having difficulty trusting new people
  • Feeling that life no longer has meaning
  • Feeling confused about your role in life

How to recognize depression

Grief and depression have similar symptoms, including intense sadness, rumination, insomnia, loss of appetite, and weight loss. But there are also differences between the two. 

Here are some signs of depression:​

  • Feeling down all the time (not in waves; in association with thoughts that are not about the deceased)
  • Being incapable of anticipating joy or pleasure
  • Feeling a sense of guilt that’s not connected to the deceased
  • Being incapable of feeling positive emotions or having a sense of humour
  • Being tormented by self-critical and pessimistic thoughts
  • Feeling a sense of worthlessness and self-loathing
  • Having suicidal thoughts

How to recognize posttraumatic stress disorder

Discovering the body of deceased suicide victim or witnessing a suicide can be traumatic. In many cases, the stress caused by such experiences subsides after a number of days. If the symptoms persist, however, you may be suffering from an acute stress reaction or posttraumatic stress disorder.

Here are some possible signs:

  • Experiencing distress at the thought of the traumatic event
  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, rapid breathing, shaking, shivering, or excessive sweating
  • Constantly thinking about the event
  • Avoiding situations or sensations that remind you of the event
  • Feeling agitated or hyper-alert to danger
  • Using alcohol or drugs to avoid thinking about the event or relieve stress

Professional help

If you have one or more of the symptoms listed above, it’s important to seek professional help quickly.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts or finding it difficult to cope with suicide grief, contact a suicide.ca counsellor (by online chat or using text messaging service), contact a suicide prevention centre or call Quebec’s 24/7 suicide prevention hotline at 1-866-277-3553.

If you think you’re experiencing psychological distress, complicated and persistent grief, depression, or posttraumatic stress disorder, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional. Contact a doctor or your local community health centre (CLSC) or call Info-Social 811, option 2.

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