Thursday, September 10, 2015

Life After Suicide

I read an article recently about life after suicide and the unexpected changes in your day to day life. This being Suicide Awareness Week, I planned to share it, but, alas, it has become lost in my countless bookmarks. So, I figured I would write my own post.

For those of you who don't know, my younger brother Daniel took his own life almost four years ago.
I remember it all so clearly, and yet it’s a blur.

It was a Monday evening, and I was home alone watching Eastenders when I got a phone call from my aunt telling me to get to the hospital immediately. Although she didn't tell me anything over the phone, I knew. I don't know how but I just knew.
After what seemed like the longest taxi journey there had ever been, I collapsed in a ball in the arms of my Dad’s neighbours at the doors of A&E.

Suicide, like many other deaths is sudden. Nothing and no one is prepared, it leaves a whole life to sort out. A bedroom full of clothes, books, guitars, a wallet with money, bank cards, I.D, a social media account to try and guess the password to, a much loved pet and an unfinished college degree to try to figure out. And, strangely, there isn’t a guidebook for the process.

Of course, this 'sorting out' comes with every death, but it is the questions that are left behind which make suicide so unbearable.
You evaluate and re-evaluate every detail: every text he had sent and received, the websites he had been on, the receipts in his pocket. He had just bought new clothes from Burton. Why did he buy them? Did he know he wasn't going to get the wear them? Its a constant search for signs that we could / should(?) have picked up on.

But, what affected me most was that ordinary life continued.

People that didn't know me walked past, carrying on their everyday life while my world was falling apart. I was struggling to breathe, while they were meeting friends for coffee.
People that did know me stopped and stared. I became the girl who's brother had killed himself.

People, who I hadn't spoken to in years or hardly even knew, sent me Facebook friend requests. There was no two ways about it: they wanted to watch me grieve.
You find solace in people who have had similar experiences. You have endless morbid conversations about details. Always details. You are happy just to have someone who won’t recoil or become immediately uncomfortable when you tell your story.

It sure is awkward being a 'suicide survivor' (that's our official name!). You never really learn what to say when people ask how many siblings you have, or what the meaning behind my astronaut tattoo is. Mostly people go quiet and make that 'Eeeek' face when I tell them, the kinder ones ask about him. (FYI: It’s a reference to a childhood nickname! A shared joke from our incredibly happy childhood.)
Or the awkwardness when someone blurts out 'I want to kill myself' because of a hangover or having to go to work. (Which doesn’t bother me, so you can all stop going silent and running away from me after saying it!)

But you learn to brush these things off; you remember a time when suicide was an awkward topic for you too; you realise time really is a healer, that you can adapt to life without him there.
But there will never be an explanation or answers. 
And that's just life - after suicide.

On December 28th, one of Daniels friends is holding a 24 hour swim. If anyone is interested in offering time, prizes, or help it would be greatly appreciated! The last one raised 10 thousand euro, which was amazing. We are hoping to raise that again this year, but hoping to raise a lot more awareness. Again, if anyone has any ideas or contacts that could help us out, please get in touch! 



  1. What a lovely well written post Emma. You have me in tears. I've never read anything from the family's perspective before, it's such a great real insight, well done for writing it.

  2. Such a powerful piece. Hair standing on end here. I think you've captured beautifully the emotions and loss that 'suicide survivors' feel. I have to share this out x

  3. Emma what a powerful post, so articulate, I'm so sorry for your loss, death is never easy least of all when it's someone so close and so young x

  4. Beautifully put. An incredibly difficult thing to write, but you have put it so well. Thoughts are with you and your family. X

  5. Emma i just bled my eyes out to this

  6. I am so very sorry for your loss. You have written such a beautiful post x

  7. Hi,
    Thank you for sharing this post, it is fantastically written and I can relate to your honest experience. Love to you and your family.
    Shelley x


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