Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Suicide Loss Rights

I didn't attend the seminar we held at our church, "Suicide and Its Aftermath."   I heard that it was helpful to those who attended.   I did pick up a handout entitled "A Statement of Suicide Loss Rights" then found it on-line. 

This is from Tony Salvatore, The Suicide Paradigm.  He lost his son, Paul, to suicide in 1996.  These are his Suicide Loss Rights.   Much of this is true for me.  I thought I would post them here and perhaps comment on each one.  Or maybe not.  We'll see.

  1. We have the right to grieve as we wish despite the unsupportive settings that we often find ourselves. Death is a normal life crisis; suicide is the ultimate abnormal life crisis.
  2. We have the right to be free of stigma. In our society suicide has a negative connotation. This afflicts us as it did those we lost.
  3. We have the right to be angry about our loss and to be able to express it appropriately at the one we have lost or ourselves.
  4. We have the right to feel responsible for things we did or did not do in relation to our loss. We may or may not come to feel differently.
  5. We have the right to grieve in a manner and timeframe that works best for us. We don't have to "get over it."
  6. We have the right to know "why." All who grieve yearn for the one lost. We also seek to understand what happened.
  7. We have the right to regard our lost loved one as a victim. Suicide is the outcome of debilitation; it is not a choice or a decision.
  8. We have the right to cooperation from police and the health care community if we seek information on how our loss came about.
  9. We have the right to the truth about our loss. We should have access to information as early as possible, if we need it.
  10. We have the right to know that we are not by definition candidates for psychotherapy or counseling, or that we must "get help."
  11. We have the right to channel our experience to aid the suicidal or other suicide grievers, or to help others better understand either group.
  12. We have the right to never be as we were before. Other ends to grief do not apply to us. We survive, but we do not "heal."
(Note: © Copyright 1998-2002 Tony Salvatore) 


  1. i agree with it all. you can survive suicide, but you never heal/get over it. suicide is a weight you always carry with you & just when you think things are better something happens, is said or you see something that touches that raw place. the important thing is you can survive and live a relatively normal life even though you may not always want to.

  2. I reject "oughts" or "shoulds" in any kind of grief. I just hate it when people tell grieving people how things ought to be. I ask, "how about just be with me where I am, accept where I am. Don't try to judge, explain, direct, or anything else besides walk in the valley with me to keep me from being so alone." These seem like wonderful statements and I just wish people weren't so unprepared to help the grieving that they have to be told things that are so obvious. My only point of hesitation on this list is with regard to #11. While a person may choose to use a horrific tragedy to channel energy, there's no requirement and should be no pressure to seek or find any redemptive value in it. I think it's fine to declare the event for what it is, which is evil. No pressure to put on some smiley face and find "good in the end". I reject any pressure to "learn" or "gain" anything from it. I reject the idea of that we "ought" to do or become anything as a result of tragedy, and that includes rejection of any moral obligation to seek or find redemptive value in it. Not so well spoken there, but it was just a personal experience and I just hated it when people would try to sugar coat it and say there must be some greater purpose. No, there was not. And if there were, it would never be sufficient purpose to make this tragedy okay.