Episode 16

A Family’s Response to Suicide – The Knapp Family PART 2


April 5th, 2019

18 mins 45 secs

Season 1

Your Hosts

About this Episode

PART 2 for PART 1 see A Family’s Response to Suicide – Knapp Family Sisters (https://distressandcrisisontario.fireside.fm/15) Sisters Melanie & Marsha Knapp Losing a loved one is never easy. Losing a loved one is even more traumatic when it is unexpected; when it is by suicide. It seems there are many professionals, along with distress/crisis line volunteers who struggle with how to support those who are left with this type of loss. Some families are challenged by the stigma of being the survivors of suicide; often they keep details of the event private. Many individuals in this situation feel they should have known that their loved one was contemplating ending their lives and they even may blame themselves for not knowing or intervening. Some struggle with anger toward the loved one for taking this route, leaving them with incredible sadness and grief. Although Penny’s message is compelling and her revelations very poignant, it is important to note it does not necessarily represent all survivors’ opinions or responses to losing a loved one through suicide. Many survivors need to work through the process of questioning and blame/guilt without judgement or suggestions to “move on”. No two survivors will grieve in the same manner and all callers’ revelations should be validated. In the second vignette, Nick’s sisters, Melanie and Marsha are also extremely forthcoming with their deepest emotions evolving around Nick’s death and how they have moved forward in honouring their brother’s life. The family has joined forces in advocating for seamless services for those who have survived the loss of a loved one by suicide and how they continue to work toward making others aware of the needed supports. Questions for Further Consideration: As a call taker on a crisis/distress line you receive a call from an individual who has lost a family member or loved one by suicide. After viewing these vignettes, how prepared to you feel about effectively supporting them? Is there other information that might better prepare you? If more information is warranted, please follow-up with further reading on the links provided on this site. You may also want to discuss any of your concerns with your training coordinator and if needed, debrief after such a call. After viewing the Knapp family vignettes, what types of information has better prepared you for handling callers who have experienced loss by suicide? What information can you take forward in your efforts as a crisis/distress line worker? Due to lack of experience with loss, especially by suicide, people are often uncomfortable talking about this topic. The candidness of the Knapp family and their strengths can provide viewers with insight as to what they went through in the first 2 years after Nick’s death. Taking note of some of their key messages may be helpful in future work with crisis/distress line callers but also keep in mind that no two callers will have the same grief response. All responses should be validated and supported What supports are in your community for family and friends who have experienced a death of a loved one by suicide? Review your local community resource books to learn more about supporting individuals who have experienced this loss.