Phases of the Mourning Process; Protest

A woman in sadness

This phase can come about very quickly if the first phase (shock) is particularly long. The mourner searches for reasons why the death came about.

When those answers don’t readily appear then anger, rage and resentment can ensue, not to mention shame and guilt. The mourner will refuse to accept what has happened: he/she may even outwardly deny that the suicide even took place.

Questions mourners ask of themselves may include

  • Why him and not me?
  • How is this possible?
  • Whose fault is this anyway?
  • What can I do to prevent other similar suicides in future?

At this stage, some will react with concrete deeds. They may establish a fund to memorialize the departed; they may go to work to prevent similar tragedies. It can be dangerous to let someone who hasn’t completed their grieving launch themselves into such a project. Mourners may quickly feel frustrated and powerless when they realize that they can’t change the world in one day. Which can lead to suicidal thoughts.

If a mourner gets involved in suicide prevention solely to avoid mourning, it can lead to no good. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Some in the media will cheer on mourners who get involved in this line of endeavor, especially if the suicide itself was high profile. Death is good for ratings. Death moves people.

We in the prevention community have seen such cases, observes Raymond Viger. In one particular instance that still touches the heart, we urged the mourner to finish his grieving before sticking his face in front of the cameras. Journalists convinced him that he was doing important work, that he could help a lot of people… It’s easy to play on the guilty feelings of a grieving man. Within a few months, he had taken his own life. He was completely exhausted. The taxing work of intervening in crisis situations had worn him out.

The media got what it wanted: a good show.

Book excerpt from Quebec Suicide Prevention Handbook (2014), Éditions TNT

Suicide Prevention Hotlines:

Québec: 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553).  CLSCs can also help you.
Canada: Canada Suicide Prevention Service 833-456-4566
U.S.: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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  1. Phases of the Mourning Process; Disorganization and Despair - The Social Eyes
  2. Phases of the Mourning Process; Shock - The Social Eyes

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