The ones left behind: Suicide survivors in Singapore

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
Mementoes from a suicide victim at the launch of the Please Stay Movement. PHOTO: Nicholas Yong/Yahoo News Singapore

SINGAPORE — Some 40 individuals whose lives have been touched by suicide came together on Saturday (23 November) for International Survivors of Suicide (ISOS) Loss Day.

This is an initiative by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP), where people affected by suicide loss gather in their local communities to find comfort and remember those they have lost. Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) has commemorated the event since 2014.

According to an SOS statement, this year’s edition featured a screening of “Pathways to Healing: Hope after Suicide Loss”, an AFSP-produced documentary.

The private, closed-door event was aimed at creating a confidential safe space for suicide loss survivors. Participants, including some from Indonesia and South Korea, shared their personal journey through healing with other survivors.

A survivor of suicide is anyone affected by the suicide death of a loved one, such as a family member, friend or colleague. Studies have shown that at least six survivors are affected by each suicide death.

Rachel (not her real name) lost her husband to suicide eight years ago, and found that it was SOS’ bereavement support group which helped her to cope with her grief.

“I got to know another member who also lost her husband to suicide. Hearing her grief journey gave me a lot of encouragement and helped me to realise that healing is possible,” she said.

Wong Lai Chun, senior assistant director at SOS, said, “The grief after a suicide often carries with it intense feelings of stigmatisation, shame and embarrassment that may last a lifetime. The sense of rejection and the inability to express their grief may lead to social isolation, which inversely affects the grieving from receiving support.”

She added, “The community must recognise the impact a suicide death leaves on the loved ones who were left behind and learn that they cannot simply move on from their loss – but instead require a supportive and understanding environment to allow them to heal.”

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Grief, waste and 'Loss Adjustment': The journey of bereaved parent and author Linda Collins