If someone dies by suicide

Support

The death of someone you love or know by suicide can leave you feeling a mixture of strong and sometimes overwhelming emotions and will be 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, and that 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.

DandelionWhen 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 that may be asked may be difficult or painful to answer, or may at first seem strange, 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 and 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, and so must enquire into any death where the circumstances may point to suicide.

Suicide and investigation into cause of death

Blue MandalaThe 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 where the funeral and burial or cremation of the person who has died normally occurs 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.

Support services

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.

  • Please contact your G.P.
  • Samaritans - 116 123 (available 24 hours a day).
  • Breathing Space - 0800 83 85 87 (Monday to Friday: 6pm to 2am and 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

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