Someone I Love Died By Suicide
Someone I Love Died By Suicide by Doreen Cammarata
This month marks the "National Suicide Survivor Day". November
17, 2001 is set aside to recognize all those who have endured
the grief surrounding the suicide of a loved one. I would like
to dedicate my first column to my mom. November 14th was her
birthday and she died by suicide 15 years ago.
As a survivor myself, I reflect upon how much my life has
changed and developed since my mom's death. An adolescent when
her death occurred, my life was ultimately shaped into becoming
a resource and support for individuals challenged by depression,
suicide, grief and various types ofloss.
In my training as a counselor I focused on my own personal and
professional growth in the field of grief counseling. I learned
that education is a reciprocal process. My greatest teachers
have been the numerous students that I worked with in an
alternative high school dropout retrieval program as well as the
many young children I worked with at a local hospice program.
While teaching at a university I am fortunate to have been
touched by so many caring professional counselors, nurses and
social workers who have attended my classes as well as by the
resourceful professors who gave me my foundation of training.
During this specific time of recognition for suicide survivors,
conferences will meet throughout the country to educate and
bring survivors together. You can access a "Live Webcast" on
Saturday, November 17th from noon to 1:30p.m. by visiting the
American Foundation of Suicide Prevention website: www.afsp.org.
This organization provides research, bibliographies, updated
articles and much more. For more information you can contact
them directly at (212) 363-3500.
In my work facilitating suicide support groups I encourage
survivors to share what they find as the key differences in
grieving a suicide. Most survivors express intensified shock,
anger and guilt in coping with the death of their special person.
I could identify with these feelings. Although I was only 17
when my mom died by suicide, I experienced extreme guilt in my
grief. I believed that "if only" I had done something different,
I could have saved her. I eventually came to terms with the fact
that there was nothing I could have done to stop what had
occurred. Like many survivors I too beat myself up with the
"what if's" for quite some time.
Not all survivors experience guilt and anger but that tends to
be a prominent theme for most. Anger can be felt in various
ways. It is commonly directed at the individual who died. When
in touch with this type of anger, many survivors tend to reflect
on the struggles their loved one endured and then ultimately
feel guilt ridden once again. For some, anger is directed at
surviving loved ones in a blaming fashion. Encouraging survivors
to express their anger as well as their other feelings in a
therapeutic environment will have positive long-term effects.
It is crucial to be aware of the accentuated duration and
intensity of grief following a suicide. Most individuals take
years to recover from the devastation of this event. It is
estimated that someone grieving a sudden loss will take three
times the average amount of time to heal from the death. Being
sensitive to the amount of time and the extreme emotions that a
survivor will feel during his grief is one way that you can
assist in the healing process. Another way to help a survivor is
by allowing him to tell and retell the specifics surrounding the
Depending on the relationship between the survivor and deceased,
the death may alter the existing person's life in numerous ways.
If the survivor is a child, there most likely will be vast
differences in the way he experiences life following the death.
For an adult, specifically a spouse, adapting to an entirely new
role is only one of the many challenges that widowhood will
bring. No matter what the age of the survivor there is a forced
new way of life. The grieving individual will now adapt a whole
new perception of what his world will be as well as his trust in
the natural progression of life.
When informing loved one's about the death, honesty is best.
Small lies only become larger lies. A survivor spared the truth
to be protected will end up re-grieving the death of their loved
one when the truth is unfolded. This can occur even many years
after the actual date of the death. Remember to always disclose
age appropriate details after carefully determining the
maturation of the survivor. However, know the consequences of
dishonesty and consult with trained professional in
communicating the truth.
Validating and commemorating the life of a loved one is
extremely beneficial in the healing process. Apparent simplistic
gestures like planting a tree or creating a memory box can be
quite empowering. As a personal way of validating my mother's
life as well as her death, I created "Someone I Love Died By
Suicide: A story for child survivors and those who care for
them." I designed this book after years of research and working
in the field. It is appropriate for all ages and is the only
book available to read directly with children survivors. More
information is available about my book on my website:
In closing, I share my knowledge and my book with you as a way
of trying to reach all those who have been devastated by the
suicide of a loved one. Please join me and take this opportunity
to recognize the numerous suicide survivors in our communities.
Read The Book Review Here ..
"Someone I Love Died by Suicide: A story for child survivors and
those who care for them". This book is one of only a few books
available today that is specifically designed to be read to
About The Author... Doreen T. Cammarata, MS, Licensed Mental
Health Counselor, is currently an adjunct instructor at Florida
Atlantic University educating graduate students and
professionals on grief counseling issues. She has had eight
years of university experience as an assistant instructor in
addition to her full time work experiences as a school counselor
for at-risk youth and as a grief and bereavement specialist
working with adults and children at a local hospice program. She
is also on the board and serves as the Program Chairperson for
the Palm Beach County, Florida ADEC Chapter.
An equally important credential is that Doreen Cammarata is a
suicide survivor. Doreen