The Other Side of Suicide

With over 6,000 deaths by suicides reported each year in the UK, how much support is given for those who are left behind?

Angela Smata knows all too well the complicated emotions that suicide bereavement brings to a family. 13 years ago, Angela spoke to her husband like she did every day, not knowing that would be her last conversation with him. “I was totally shocked. I had no warning signs; there were no prior attempts. I spoke to him just 15 minutes prior to discovering that he had taken his own life. Every time I go there and think of that moment I am brought right back to 13 years ago and feel the power and the intensity of opening the door and finding that he had hung himself.” She adds “Suicide bereavement is unlike other types of bereavement because unlike other types of deaths their intensity wears off, however, although every case is different for me it took a long time to shake of the shock of finding Mark had taken his life.”

Although Angela says that she and her children were surrounded by incredible support from her strong network of friends and family however she didn’t know anyone else who had to tell their children that their father had taken his own life. That is when Angela turned to SOBS (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide) where she went to regular support groups. She says, “When I went to the support group there were other parents there who had navigated their children through this experience which really helped me.” She adds “I think that the support that was given to me was mainly because of the incredible doctor who realised I was not depressed and did not need anti depressants to fix the problem but I was heart broken he suggested that I go to a support group as he knew that I needed to really connect with people who had experienced the same lost”

Because Angela felt that she had immense support from the charity she went on to not only be the head of the charity but filmed with the BBC alongside her family in the documentary “Life after Suicide” she explains “The reason we (Angela and her family), chose to open up and take part in the documentary was one, I found that the sharing of other people’s story helped me with the feelings of isolation, knowing other people who were also going through suicide bereavement helped me, so we said yes to the film to almost be that person who shares their story for others not feel alone. And the second reason was that we always said that if we had helped just one person it would have been worth while.”

For someone who wanted to give a little back to the people who had helped the through the incredible tough time it can defiantly be said that Angela didn’t just give back a little she gave back so much to the cause. Angela’s documentary has been shown on three separate occasions for the BBC, helping to break the stigma surrounding suicide bereavement but also suicide itself. Angela admits that she has had an incredible response to the documentary with many people writing to her to tell her how the documentary helped them on one level or another and it hasn’t been just from people who had lost someone to suicide but also people who are suicidal as they said that it helped them realise the other side to suicide and the impact their actions could have on their loved ones.

However, the support that Angela received cannot be said for everyone. Like many people, Matthew Wootten felt isolated when he lost his uncle to suicide in 2014 and is still angry with the lack of support he felt there was for him and his family”. He strongly believes that the NHS and government should be doing more and should supply and offer accessible services specifically tailed for suicide bereavement because he says it is different types grief.

“Losing my Uncle was unlike anything I had experienced before. Initially, I was in shock, disbelief because I could not believe that my uncle, the man who was the life and soul of the party was capable of something like that. It wasn’t until his body was identified a couple of days later that it began to sink in, but before then I just kept thinking that it had to be a mistake.”

“Suicide is unlike I guess your average bereavement, I was left with so many questions and different emotions. I kept asking myself why did he do it? Was there anything I could have done to prevent it? And even then I didn’t know whether to share how he died to people, I didn’t know whether or not I should have been embarrassed or I guessed ashamed of what he had done. There needs to be more talking about suicide and the bereavement process, so that those bereaving a friend or a family member from suicide know that they are not alone. Yes I had friends that supported me and my family through this time, however life goes on and people move on but sometimes I feel we are still stuck and that life has not been the same since”

If you or anyone you know are going through suicide bereavement know that you are not alone and that there are services and support groups.


Paige Bradley

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