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After a Suicide
Solutions for Guilt, Anxiety & Sadness Martyn Carruthers

Online Life Coaching & Counseling following a Suicide

We do not seek suicidal clients and we refer suicidal people to hot-lines.

If someone hints that he or she may suicide, promptly refer that person to an appropriate health professional. (Telephone a suicide hot-line or the police
or a hospital yourself if you don't know or can't find a health professional)

After a suicide of a family member

People who attempt or commit suicide often want
to talk about their guilt, pain or lost sense of life.

Please listen to them, respond with compassion,
and contact an appropriate health professional.

History of Suicide

In ancient Egypt, suicide was considered a humane way to escape intolerable conditions. However Egypt's Roman government outlawed suicide, with threats of eternal torture. As pharaohs and emperors were also gods, imperial law was both secular and religious. Many of these laws were later integrated into Judaism,  Christianity and Islam, threatening suicidal slaves with everlasting punishment.

Until recently, suicide attempts were punishable by both religious and criminal law in many countries. Although most criminal penalties for attempting suicide have been abolished in the West, many laws still prohibit assisting people who want to die.

2009: A record number of active-duty US soldiers killed themselves recently ... many of them soldiers deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq. The 128 confirmed suicides in 2008 mark a new high since the Army began tracking them in 1980. (Why do soldiers suicide?)

The true number of suicides may be higher than official figures. Many suicides are described as accidents, misadventure or as results of schizophrenia or depression. This contrasts with military organizations and prisons, where murders may be reported as suicide to reduce workload, blame and publicity.

2011: The American Journal of Public Health published a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which compared suicide trends to business cycles. The study showed that working Americans aged 25 to 64 are more prone to suicide in difficult times.

Suicide in Human Relationship Systems

Men are more likely to kill themselves than women in every age group, especially among the elderly. About 85% of suicides are men over 65, and even higher for divorced men. In America, suicide is the second leading cause of death in adults aged 15-24. As a profession, doctors seem to have the highest suicide rate.

Some people may try to act out the life-drama of suicidal relatives. If a parent or grand-parent committed suicide, a descendent may unconsciously identify with that family member, and try to relive that ancestor's life ... and death.

My suicide attempt was mostly my need to hide my weaknesses from my family

When we explore the consequences of suicide in a family, we often find:

  • at least one family member may be overcome by grief or guilt
  • a baby soon dies - perhaps as a miscarriage, stillborn or crib-death (cot death)
  • a grand-child becomes suicidal (often at the same age as the ancestor's suicide)

Attempted suicide and suicide threats may have similar consequences. Descendents can be burdened by their ancestor's emotional and relationship disturbances. In particular, we notice that the eldest child (especially if he or she was an infant at the time of the suicide) seems more likely to take on this terrible burden.

It is often rather easy to recognize people who have emotionally identified with a dead person. The signs of dead person identification usually include melancholy and obsessions with death and dying. Identified people may enjoy visiting cemeteries and places where people suffered and died. They may consider themselves psychic and claim to channel spiritual entities or dead people.

I tried to kill myself three times - and I didn't really know why. Life was just too hard or
too easy. Now I know why ... and it's changed ... it's over. Now I can live my own life,
and not relive my grandmother's drama and suicide.

A client or student who suicides can provoke similar shock and guilt among therapists and trainers. Other clients or students may express anger to the therapist or trainer for not preventing the suicide. We help therapists, trainers and other affected people deal with emotional consequences. See: Ghosts . Dead Person Identification . Grief

Intelligence and Suicide

Intelligence may not always be a survival trait. Less intelligent people may persevere where more intelligent people may give up. I suspect that intelligent people are more likely to suicide if their lives lack sense. This seems especially true for people who are detached from their families and communities ... people with few relationships that inspire hope and effort.

Meaning of Life

A decision to die may reflect a conclusion that "my life does not make sense". Although decisions to suicide may be made under the influence of pain, depression, disease or drugs; unpleasant negative emotions play a strong role.

  • Anger or rage about violated values
  • Fear or anxiety about future suffering
  • Guilt or shame about having harmed people
  • Sadness or melancholy about lost opportunities

Suicidal thoughts may be a basis for a diagnosis of depression, which can lead to prescriptions of psychoactive drugs. Suicidal thoughts may also follow a diagnosis of psychosis or a terminal disease.

A person who lacks close or meaningful relationships and has no sense of life purpose, may be a suicide risk, even if the person is physically healthy and has material success. A meaningless life seems also connected to addictions and depression. If life seems to lack sense, or if death seems to make more sense than life, then suicide may appear to be a solution. Are you suicidal?

Causes of Suicide

Adult children of alcoholics (ACOA) and people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a higher risk of suicidal behavior. Also, people (including criminals, police and military) who kill or torture people may suicide after a period of PTSD and/or substance abuse and/or depression.

Suicidal behavior may follow military service, especially if the causes for which people fought are later exposed as lies. Soldiers who have killed innocent people may decide to suicide, unless somehow convinced that their murders were in a higher cause.

Medals help people get away with murder.

A similar cause is cult membership, if the cult is shown to be false. A lost sense of life can result in a desire for death.

We help people find solutions to cross-generational chains of suicides in families, and help prevent suicidal children in future generations.

... page 2 can start here ...

Types of Suicide

Suicide bombers are often single people who have identified with victims in their family or community. People who identify with victims may be unable to imagine future happiness. Instead they may chronically experience chronic anger, rage, suspicion and aggression. (We often help people manage this and similar enmeshments).

Similarly, some people identify with dead people in their family or community. Symptoms of dead person identification often include suicidal fantasies.

Some attempted suicides may be appeals for help, while mock suicides can be accidentally fatal. Avoid dismissing suicide attempts as attention seeking.

Some deaths by misadventure are related to suicidal behavior. Young adults who die while attempting extreme physical or military feats may be in this category. (People who truly do not fear death may be described as having a death wish).

Teen Suicide

A teenager may try to punish parents, family or friends who were perceived as insufficiently interested in the teenager's life. Deaths of parents, celebrities or other role models may also motivate teenagers to consider suicide. As most teenagers are highly aware of each others' moods and actions, a suicide by one teenager may initiate one or more copycat suicides.

If you are worried that a young person may be considering suicide,
some classic symptoms include excessive risk taking
and a preoccupation with death and dying.
(See dead person identification for more.)

Consequences of Suicide

My mother was depressed and tried to kill herself three times when I was a child. Whenever I have a problem - almost any problem - it's like I hear my mother's voice advising me to suicide. Saint John, Canada

A fatal suicide usually causes guilt and  grief amongst family and friends; especially people who feel that they might have prevented it. A suicidal death may have long-term consequences. A partner, close friend or a descendent may try to follow the dead person. We call this dead person identification ... and we offer solutions.

My body is getting sicker and doctors seem to have no idea why. My father killed himself when he was 42. I am 41 now and I feel like I'm going to die. Croatia

Although support groups may help suicide survivors, we find that partners, children and grandchildren of a suicide may need special help so that they do not identify with the dead person. A child or grand-child of a suicide may carry this burden.

Online Counseling following a Suicide

Suicidal Crisis

If someone hints that he or she may suicide, promptly refer that person to an appropriate health professional. Perhaps telephone a health professional yourself, introduce yourself and give the telephone to the maybe-suicidal person. (Telephone a suicide hot-line ... see
Contact the police or a hospital if you don't know a health professional).

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 2002-2018
All rights reserved.

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email