Suicide Loss is a Trauma - Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County

Suicide Loss is a Trauma

 It’s important to recognize that losing someone to suicide can be an especially traumatic experience. In understanding that what you have gone through can be considered a trauma, you can better understand what your grief journey may look like or the different ways it may impact you. Trauma impacts you differently than other types of losses, which may help normalize what you are experiencing.

Common Trauma Reactions

Re-experiencing the Trauma: trauma survivors may re-experience their trauma through thoughts, feelings, memories and other means. Re-experiencing trauma can be very distressing, and may trigger
uncomfortable emotions such as fear, anger, or sadness.

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks (uncontrollable vivid images and memories of the trauma)
  • Distressing thoughts and feelings about the trauma
  • Emotional distress or physical responses after experiencing a trauma reminder

Negative Thoughts or Feelings: these may begin or worsen after experiencing a trauma. Some of these thoughts and feelings might not seem to relate directly to the trauma.

  • Excessive blame toward oneself or others related
    to the trauma
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Feelings of isolation or disconnection from
  • Difficulty experiencing positive feelings
  • Loss of memory related to the trauma
  • Excessive negative thoughts about oneself

Avoidance of Trauma Reminders: because reminders of trauma can be so distressing, it is common for trauma survivors to use avoidance to control these reactions.

  • Using drugs or alcohol to suppress uncomfortable
    thoughts and emotions
  • Avoidance of activities related to the trauma
  • Avoidance of people, places and things related to
    the trauma
  • Suppressing thoughts related to the trauma
  • Avoidance of conversations about the trauma

Hyperarousal: reactivity, or a feeling of being “on edge,” may begin or worsen after experiencing a trauma. This category includes a broad range of physical and psychological symptoms.

  • Becoming irritable, quick to anger, or aggressive
  • Heightened startle reaction
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequently scanning the environment or watching
    for trauma reminders
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feelings of anxiety, and related symptoms such as
    racing heart, upset stomach, or headaches
  • Risky or impulsive behaviors

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