Grief: Losing a Parent to Suicide

Grief: Losing a Parent to Suicide

By Emily Ferrer

Suicidal thoughts are one of the most dreadful experiences one can go through and it is even more dreadful when the act of suicide is carried out by someone you love. The impact of suicidal thoughts on an individual is grueling, painful, and terrifying. However, many people tend to forget about the terrifying and painful part that the individual’s family and friends go through as well. The attention around suicide is always so focused on the suicidal individual that many people forget about the impact it can have on their loved ones. In fact, have you ever thought about losing a parent to suicide? It may seem horrifying and extraordinary; but it is more common than you think. Individuals who are at most risk to die by suicide are adults over the age of 45. More specifically, women are most at risk between the ages of 45-54 and men are most at risk ages 85 and older[1]. Many people may find this shocking, as the media portrays suicide rates to be the most high in adolescents and teens, but this is just not the case. Older individuals usually have undiagnosed or untreated depression and anxiety, a lack of frequent social interactions, suffer from underlying illnesses that may increase their attempt to be more successful, and/or suffer from chronic illnesses that may increase their depression and anxiety[2].

As saddening as these statistics are, it is even worse to see that between 7,000 and 12,000 children lose a parent to suicide every year[3]. It is devastating for children to experience such a traumatic event in their lives, especially someone they loved, admired, and relied on unconditionally. Losing a parent to suicide is not like normal grief that you experience after losing someone to a physical illness or accident. Losing a parent to suicide is grieving on steroids. “Grief comes in waves and grief from suicide comes in tsunami waves”, is great quote that explains how dreadful suicide grief can feel. Children of parents who died by suicide can experience an enormous range of emotions that can cause them to feel very confused. These emotions include[4]:

  • Shock                              – Panic                                       – Despair
  • Confusion                       – Intense anger                          – Disgust
  • Denial                             – Intense sadness                      – Feelings of abandonment or rejection

It is important to know that losing a parent to suicide is extremely unfortunate and traumatic. The emotions tied to suicide grief are understandable and completely normal. Staying close to family and friends during such a difficult time is crucial and can enormously help with healing. It is also critical to feel the emotions you experience and to not turn them away as it is a part of the healing process. Seeking professional help if you are feeling overwhelmed with these emotions or experiencing them for a long time is also is a good way to heal in the healthiest way possible.

If you or someone you know is grieving a lost one due to suicide, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit






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