If someone dies by suicide
The death of someone you love or know by suicide can leave you feeling a mixture of strong and sometimes overwhelming emotions. It is a devastating and traumatic event in anyone’s life.
Everyone grieves differently, and it is helpful to know that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It is also important to know that you do not need to manage alone. It will be helpful now or in time to speak about the person you have lost and how you are feeling to those around you – whether this is family, friends, your doctor or one of the support services listed.
When a person has died in circumstances that may indicate suicide, the police or ambulance are usually called first.
The police will deal with the incident and may need to speak with you and others to find out more information about the person who has died. Some of the questions asked may be difficult or painful to answer, but it’s important to provide as much information as you can. The reason for this is that the police need to try to establish the reasons why the person has taken their own life. The police will talk you through this and explain what will happen next.
Police officers often have to inform people of the death of a relative. A next of kin, or someone close to the person who has died, may be asked to formally identify the person.
The Procurator Fiscal has a duty to investigate all sudden, suspicious, accidental, unexpected and unexplained deaths. They must enquire into any death where the circumstances may point to suicide.
Suicide and investigation into cause of death
The Procurator Fiscal’s office will carry out their investigation and will issue the certificate showing the cause of death. They will also be responsible for releasing the body of the person who has died to the nearest relative once the investigation is complete.
This delay can be very distressing for families. Especially where there are religious or cultural traditions that means the funeral and burial or cremation should occur as soon as possible. The Procurator Fiscal will normally contact the nearest relatives to keep them updated and to answer any queries you may have.
The media might take an interest in a death by suicide. You may want to ask the police or funeral director for help in dealing with any media attention.
The Compassionate Friends (TCF) - online and in person support groups for a parent or a sibling bereaved by suicide. This group is available to support a parent who has been by bereaved by suicide (regardless of the age of their child who may have been an adult). The group can also offer support to a sibling (aged 18 years plus) and grandparents who have been bereaved by suicide.
For more information on these groups, please contact Linda Paterson (Group Facilitator) firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact details for TCF:
- email email@example.com
- phone 0345 123 2304
daily, 10am to 4pm, and 7pm to 10pm
- visit The Compassionate Friends
Mind the Men
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- visit Mind the Men
- phone 0800 068 4141
daily, 9am to midnight
- text: 07860 039 967
- visit PAPYRUS
People Experiencing Trauma and Loss (PETAL)
- email email@example.com
- phone 01698 324 502
- visit PETAL
River Clyde Memorial Group
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS)
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- phone 0300 111 5065
Monday to Sunday, 9am to 9pm
- visit SOBS
Touched By Suicide Scotland (TBSS)
- phone 01294 274 273 or 01294 216 895
A list of other support services, including contact details, is also available.
If you yourself are having thoughts of suicide it’s important that you reach out for help. There are a range of organisations you can contact and we encourage you to do so:
- contact your GP
- Samaritans - 116 123 (available 24 hours a day)
- Breathing Space - 0800 83 85 87
Monday to Friday, 6pm to 2am
24 hours at weekends
- SHOUT - a Free Crisis Text service 85258
- if you need urgent help or feel you are at risk you should contact 999
If you are a professional looking to access resources to deliver training on suicide prevention, you may wish to find out more about the ‘Wave after Wave: Providing a Compassionate Response Following a Bereavement’ resources.
For more information on this training, email email@example.com.