Episode 6

Episode 6: Trauma & Sudden Violent Loss


January 28th, 2019

31 mins 11 secs

Season 1

Your Hosts

About this Episode

Canadian statistics indicate that there are approximately 15 acts of suicide for every 100,000 people. In Ontario alone, there were 1,032 suicidal deaths reported in 2001. Taking one’s life represents insurmountable personal pain however, in the aftermath, it is the survivors who must come to grips with this traumatic and sudden loss. Often, suicide is committed in a violent manner, with or without clues or messages left behind for loved ones. They are left with unanswered questions and significant grief. Distress Line volunteers are typically trained to support or respond to callers who are expressing suicidal ideation, but may feel at a loss when the caller is the survivor of a suicide. In the following interview with Karen Letofsky, a grief counselor in the Greater Toronto Area, viewers will review the conflicting emotions of suicide survivors as well as how societal influences effects the process of coping with their loss. Ms. Letofsky also details how Distress Line Volunteers can be supportive to listeners to those working through the journey of survivor grief. Questions for Further Consideration 1. Think about your first reaction or possible first reaction to a caller who has recently lost a loved one. Do your preconceived ideas or questions get in the way supporting this caller? Make sure that you are there for them in the present. Survivors of suicide must tell their story over and over as if peeling an onion. They are working toward making sense or learning to cope with their loss. Avoid rushing them through the process. This call may need extra time to walk through their current level of grief. Make sure to have back up senior volunteer support or a coordinator to whom you can go to for debriefing after a particularly difficult call. Do you remember the Hit List of Unhelpful Reactions to a call? I know how you feel… I understand what you are going through… False cheerfulness – don��t try to cheer them up Rushing them through the pain – “you’ll be fine” Forgetting that suicide is a multi-facetted loss which is impacted by factors such as the specific circumstances, loss of esteem, loss of safety, torn core beliefs, cultural influences, loss of control, etc. 3. What are some of the supportive responses you may consider when on a call from a survivor of suicide? Be a witness to their pain – use active listening skills, allow them to tell their story Be sensitive to where they are in their pain, allow them to work through where they are on their journey through grief Be aware that cultural and/or religious beliefs may impact how they are reacting or being treated, listen for signs of this. Ask open-ended questions about what is happening Be a resource – explore options for support groups for face to face contact with others in their situation Glossary ANNIVERSARY REACTION - Worsening of grieving on dates related to the loss HYPERVIGILANCE - Grief state involving exclusive preoccupation with loss NORMAL GRIEF - Lasts less than 6 months; resolves without treatment PEER-LED GROUP - Support group led by a volunteer suicide survivor. POST TRAUMATIC STRESS - Severe emotional reaction to a traumatic event. RECOVERY GUILT - Discomfort with feelings of happiness after loss. SECONDARY VICTIMIZATION - Negative experience of survivors with media, police, etc. SUICIDAL IDEATION - Thoughts about completing suicide. (Source:https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/kc/suicidal-thoughts-ideation-193026 (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/kc/suicidal-thoughts-ideation-193026))