Autism in Children and Suicidal Thoughts or Planning
Elemy.com, with therapists across the U.S. who specialize in mental diversity (ADHD, anxiety, autism, and mood disorders) in children, has an informative website including a page on how to discern if an autistic child in your family or classroom might be at risk, and what to do.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1–800–273-TALK (8255)
The Lifeline is a 24-hour toll-free phone line for people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. An online chat option is available at:
URGENT–988 crisis hotline starts July 16, 2022.
Suicide rates have increased over the past decade. Emergency department visits for suicide attempts have substantially increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, fewer than half of adults with mental illness are receiving treatment, and the demand for inpatient psychiatric care consistently and significantly exceeds supply. This new hotline provides 24/7 phone and text support, in an effort to decriminalize mental health crises and put a trained counselor on the line with any person experiencing or observing a mental-health crisis, reports HealthAffairs.org.
Organizations and Websites for Survivors, from Suicide Prevention Resources for Survivors of Suicide Loss (sprc.org). Organizations that I personally recommend have an asterisk; others I do not know. Listed in alphabetical order.
After a Suicide: Recommendations for Religious Services and Other Public Memorial Observances
This booklet helps community and faith leaders plan memorial observances and provide support to survivors.
After a Suicide Resource Directory: Coping with Grief, Trauma, and Distress
This extensive online directory contains resources for survivors of suicide loss as well as for people who want to support survivors. It includes links to websites, booklets, online discussion forums and chat rooms, support groups, and resources for some specific populations and settings.
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors
This organization for survivors of suicide loss provides information sheets, a blog, and a community forum. Through the forum, survivors can contact others with similar losses, share their stories, and discuss healing from a loss by suicide. The forum operates like a 24/7 support group with a team of trained moderators and a mental health clinician who contributes regularly.
American Association of Suicidology (AAS)
AAS addresses many aspects of suicide prevention, intervention, and survivor support. Its website has a section called “Suicide Loss Survivors” (https://www.suicidology.org/suicide-survivors/suicide-loss-survivors), which includes newsletter articles, personal stories, and a directory of support groups for survivors of suicide loss. There is also a section for clinicians who have lost a patient and/or family member to suicide. AAS, in collaboration with AFSP (below), organizes an annual one-day Healing After Suicide conference for suicide loss survivors and those who help them.
*American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
AFSP provides a wide variety of services related to suicide prevention and coping with suicide. Its website has a section called “I’ve Lost Someone” (https://www.afsp.org/survivingsuicideloss), which offers information for survivors, as well as personal stories and a directory of support groups for survivors of suicide loss. AFSP provides a training program for support group facilitators and a survivor outreach program. AFSP also sponsors an annual International Survivors of Suicide Day, an event where the survivor community comes together for support and healing.
Friends for Survival
This organization is for people who have lost family or friends to suicide and professionals who work with people who have been touched by suicide. All staff and volunteers have been directly impacted by a suicide death. The organization produces a monthly newsletter and runs the Suicide Loss Helpline (1-800-646-7322), which is available 9a.m.–9p.m., seven days a week. It has also published the guide Pathways to Purpose and Hope, which provides comprehensive information on building a community-based suicide survivor support program.
Healing to the Max
Launched by a family in Saskatchewan, Canada, after the suicide death of their son Max, Healing to the Max has grown into a nationwide “therapeutic intensive” and prevention program with global online seminars (for a fee, which can be waived if needed) such as: youth and teens, aboriginal peoples, parents, men’s only, and grandparents.
HEARTBEAT: Grief Support Following Suicide
This organization has chapters providing support groups for survivors of suicide loss in Colorado and some other states. Its website provides information sheets for survivors and a leader’s guide on how to start a new chapter of HEARTBEAT.
I Am Healed Retreat
Annual in-person, 4-day retreat in California addresses loss and PTSD through individual, group, and equine therapy, yoga, art therapy, and educational presentations by renowned speakers and authors.
*National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
This is your place if you’re feeling the urge to volunteer for suicide prevention on an ongoing basis (e.g., on their helpline), or on their annual fundraising walk. NAMI also will publish your story of how mental illness has affected your life. They also run local support groups; the one I attended in my town was by far the most relevant, helpful community support I’d ever experienced, full of peers struggling to support their own loved ones. They offered deep empathy after Jacob died … sadly, I left the group, as I no longer shared their common goal of keeping their loved one alive and safe.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The Lifeline is a 24-hour toll-free phone line for people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. An online chat option is available at:
*Out of the Darkness
Annual walk to raise funds for suicide-prevention research and outreach, operated by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). This is a beautiful way to honor your lost loved one: You devote just one day to walk, with other survivors, to support one another and raise awareness of mental health. I brought a photograph of Jacob and wore colored beads to show my relationship to the person I lost, and it felt great to do something concrete and active on his behalf.
Parents of Suicides and Friends & Families of Suicides (POS-FFOS)
This website provides a public message board called Suicide Grief Support Forum, a listserv for parents, a separate listserv for others, and an online chat room for survivors of suicide loss.
Preventing Suicide: How to Start a Survivors’ Group
This manual discusses the needs of suicide survivors and the ways in which self-help groups can help. It also provides guidance on how to establish and run a survivors’ support group.
RecoverHe online course for men
Therapist and EMDR specialist Megan McQuary offers a 12-week online course, available anytime, that helps increase self-understanding and self-esteem along with communication skills.
Resources for Survivor Support Groups and Programs Pathways to Purpose and Hope
Guide for creating a support program for survivors of suicide loss that offers a variety of services on a long-term basis. It is designed to help any layperson start a new program or enhance an existing one. It provides instructions for developing an agency brochure, database, and website; welcoming new families; facilitating support meetings; compiling a newsletter; and other services. It also includes chapters on communications, finances and fundraising, training, governance, and evaluation, as well as sample forms and handouts.
SOS: A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide
Available in Spanish at:
Brief handbook to help people who have experienced a loss by suicide cope with their emotions and questions.
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)
SAVE is an organization that focuses on public awareness and education about suicide and suicide prevention. Its website has a section for suicide loss survivors called “Grief Support” (https://www.save.org/what-we-do/ grief-support/) which contains information sheets, personal stories, and a directory of support groups for survivors of suicide loss.
Suicide: Coping with the Loss of a Friend or Loved One
Brief guide to understanding and coping with emotions and questions that arise from losing a friend or loved one to suicide.
Suicide: Finding Hope
This website provides information sheets, a resource list, and a few brief videos for survivors of suicide loss as well as suicide-attempt survivors.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)
SPRC provides information, training, and technical assistance related to suicide and suicide prevention. Its online library has a large number of materials for survivors of suicide loss at:
Surviving a Suicide Loss: A Financial Guide
This brief guide was developed to help survivors of suicide loss deal with personal financial issues, especially if the person who died was the primary bread winner or financial decision maker in the family.
SurvivorVoices: Sharing the Story of Suicide Loss
This two-day, in-person training program teaches suicide-loss survivors how to speak safely and effectively about their loss—both publicly and privately. It is usually provided to a group of no more than eight survivors to allow time for each person to share and get support.
The Basics: Facilitating a Suicide Survivors Support Group
This guide provides information on survivor issues and starting and facilitating a survivor support group, plus handouts and resources that can be used by group facilitators, and reflections from a survivor’s perspective.
Training Program: Facilitating a Suicide Bereavement Support Group
This two-day training program uses lecture, interactive discussion, and role-playing to prepare participants to create and facilitate a survivor support group. There is one training on facilitating support groups for adults and another on facilitating support groups for children and teens. Trainings are offered throughout the year across the United States.
Trauma online course
Offered by therapist and EMDR specialist Megan McQuary of the Mental Survivalist, this 8-week online course, available anytime, facilitates emotional regulation, self-compassion, and resiliency for survivors of trauma.
*What’s Your Grief
Online community features six-word snippets, recipes, photographs, and (most interesting, I think) “grief secrets” by those experiencing grief. Therapists Eleanor Haley, MS, and Litsa Williams, MA, LCSW-C, also offer online grief-support courses and an extensive section of such resources as ways to support a griever, parenting while grieving, how to write a sympathy card, and more. They also run a blog that covers the gamut of common experiences after loss
Articles, blogs, and books are listed in alphabetical order by author name. Any that I’ve personally read and found helpful are marked with an asterisk.
American Association of Suicidology website, podcast, and blog: suicidology.org.
Bering, Jesse. Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves. University of Chicago Press, 2018, 272 pages.
*Bidwell Smith, Claire. After This: When Life Is Over, Where Do We Go? Avery, 2015, hardcover, 288 pages.
Dilworth, Tiffani. Types of Grief. Lulu.com, 2020, paperback, 72 pages.
*Dunn, Marshall. Letters to Mitch: The Healing Power of Grief, Love & Truth. Montego Creative Inc., 2016, paperback and kindle, 210 pages.
FloridaRehab.com‘s website has a page that succinctly outlines stages and types of grief, symptoms, and side effects. They provide workshops and treatment for addiction recovery and dual-diagnosis for teens and adults in several locations throughout the U.S.
Joiner, Thomas. Why People Die by Suicide. Harvard University Press, 2007, paperback, 288 pages.
*Kessler, David. The Sixth Stage of Grief. Scribner, 2019, 272 pages.
*Legere, Barbara. Two excellent books by a loss survivor whose son Keven died by suicide at age 29: Keven’s Choice is one of the most respectful, no-B.S. accounts that explores the physical and psychological toll of dual addiction and mental illness; and Talk to Me I’m Grieving offers supportive tips for surviving and strives to overcome the stigma of talking openly about depression, addiction, grief, and loss.
*National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH): Extensive website offering the latest statistics and research on suicide.
*Redfield, Kay Jamison. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide. Vintage, 2000, 448 pages.
*Shneidman, Edwin S. The Suicidal Mind. Oxford University Press, 1998, 208 pages.
*The Leftover Pieces Podcast with Melissa Bottorf-Arey. “This [grief] is lonely, but you don’t have to be alone,” says Melissa, who posts a new podcast each week with a wide range of guests alternating with her solo “down the rabbit hole” deep dives into many facets of traumatic loss. She offers a free downloadable book on surviving suicide loss. And if music speaks to your inner self, check out her “grief playlist” on Apple Music.
Counseling: Find a good match on Psychology Today, where you can search for someone nearby or for online therapy. The more keywords you enter, such as grief, nonbinary, anxiety, or narcissistic abuse, the more quickly you’ll find a midwife for your process.
Psychic medium Fleur has been endorsed by grief author Claire Bidwell Smith. Born with the ability to channel communications from those “on the other side,” Fleur offers readings but also believes that each of us has the capacity to hone psychic skills. She works in Los Angeles and Portugal as well as via telephone and offers trainings and an online course, as well as a book: Moving Beyond: Access Your Intution, Psychic Ability and Spirit Connection.
Virtual counseling: If insurance or time precludes a traditional therapeutic setup for you, try these mental health apps for affordable and accessible therapy.
Sibling Support: When a young family member dies by suicide, siblings often become “the forgotten bereaved,” according to the Alliance of Hope, and suffer the double loss of their brother or sister along with emotional absence from their grieving parents. This article talks about the needs of grieving teens. One group teens can join (for summer camps or ongoing peer support) is Kara.
Mental Health America: Nonprofit striving to educate and support people living with mental illness “Before Stage 4,” they say, noting that in physical care we apply preventative and early-stage care long before an illness becomes terminal. They offer Spanish-language resources, a directory of local affiliates that can get you connected, and online self-help tools for screening your emotions and stress, communicating about and advocating for your mental health, and caring for your mind and body.
The Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families. In addition to resources for kids through adults, The Dougy Center offers a global directory of peer groups, where you may be able to meet virtually or safely in-person.