Losing a loved one to suicide is a traumatic experience, particularly if the death occurred in the home.
There is no ‘right way’ to process this tragedy.
It’s common to feel overwhelmed when faced with the aftermath of suicide. However, there are people who can help, whatever form it takes.
If someone has died in the home because of suicide, you should call 000 and ask for an ambulance.
Try to stay calm and explain to the operators exactly what you have discovered.
Take note of the time and the surroundings. Operators will often ask questions such as how long was the deceased person alone before death or what were they doing before you found them.
If there is an immediate hazard in the home, such as gas leaking, it’s important that you move to a safe place.
In cases of unexpected death, police will often be called to clarify exactly what happened. In some cases, the Coroner may be involved to determine the cause of death.
If there is a second person in the house it may be best to have them stand on the street to flag down the ambulance when they arrive.
If the police are called, it’s important that you leave the deceased person’s body as you found them.
To help you process the immediate aftermath it’s often a good idea to call a friend or relative who can provide emotional support and help answer questions asked by health workers or the police.
Speaking to Someone
The sudden and often unexpected nature of suicide can be very hard to psychologically process. For many people, speaking to a mental health professional can help.
Lifeline Australia has a crisis support line that can help you deal with this awful situation and take steps for further support if needed. They can be contacted on 13 11 14.
They also have information on bereavement support following suicide.
It’s important that you feel free to talk about your reactions to suicide openly and honestly and to find support to make sense of what has happened.
Grief following suicide can stir up a variety of complicated feelings including guilt, shame, anger, regret and blame. It’s important that you allow yourself time to process these emotions and seek support.
Support can come in many forms whether that is a friend, family member or from a professional.
According to mental health experts, a therapist can assist with:
- Helping you make sense of the death and better understand any psychiatric problems the deceased may have had.
- Treating you, if you’re experiencing post-traumatic stress as a result of the tragedy.
- Exploring unfinished issues in your relationship with the deceased
- Aiding you in coping with divergent reactions among family members
- Offering support and understanding as you go through your unique grieving process.
Clean Up Following Suicide
Cleaning up following a suicide can be a particularly distressing situation for friends and family members.
As long as there is no immediate danger to others, clean up does not need to be done immediately. If there is an immediate danger, you should call 000.
Clean up in the aftermath of suicide requires the removal, cleaning, deodorising and disinfection of a number of biohazards including blood and bodily fluids.
If the deceased person has not been found after some time, this could require extensive remediation and restoration of an area.
Cleaning up biological material in the aftermath of suicide not only raises some health risks in the form of bloodborne pathogens, but a serious risk of psychological harm to friends and family members.
You shouldn’t feel obligated to clean up the aftermath of suicide, particularly if this process is potentially harmful to your mental health.
Forensic Cleaning Australia are specialists in biological cleaning, who can assist in discreetly and respectfully cleaning the aftermath of suicide.
By hiring a third party, you can ensure that the scene is cleaned thoroughly by professionals.
Furthermore, our death cleaning services ensure that friend and family members do not have to go through the emotional pain of dealing with blood and bodily fluids of loved ones.
If you are in need of our specialist services, please get in touch.
Look After Yourself
It’s important to take care of yourself during this overwhelming and upsetting time. Surround yourself with nurturing people, and take time for yourself when you need it.
Try to eat well, sleep regularly, and keep active to maintain your overall wellbeing.
Sometimes after a loved one dies of suicide, people start having thoughts of suicide.
If this is happening to you or a loved one call Lifeline on 13 11 14.