“If Only”: Self-Blame After a Loved One’s Suicide

“If Only”: Self-Blame After a Loved One’s Suicide.

About Sue Rosenbloom, M.A., C.T.

Thanatologist: Loss and Grief Coach - My blog is for educational purposes only. I am not a licensed professional counselor - Bachelor of Arts in Human Studies - Marylhurst University (2007)- Certificate in Thanatology - Hood College (2008) Master of Arts in Thanatology - Hood College (2009) Certificate in Thanatology - The-Association for Death Education and Counseling (The highest level of loss and grief education). * Hospice, Alzheimers and Senior's Advocate * Former first responder for Trauma Intervention Program, Inc. (TIP) * Hospice and Bereavement Volunteer for Providence Hospice Bereavement Program * Association for Death Education and Counseling Member * National Alliance for Bereavement of Children * Hood College Thanatology Association * American Group Psychotherapy Association * Marylhurst Gerontolgy Association * Oregon Gerontology Association * Hospice, Loss, Grief and Bereavement Researcher * Creative Writer
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2 Responses to “If Only”: Self-Blame After a Loved One’s Suicide

  1. Fred says:

    Hi, I’m hoping to leave a reply on the following line:
    “Most often, these forces are mental illness. By many accounts, 90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness. Other forces besides mental illness also can cause suicide: trauma, stress, loss, and any other event or condition that creates excruciating pain.”

    This line is very hard for me to read – I lost my sister to suicide in 2013. At that time she was “diagnosed” with a “mental illness”. I myself had been “diagnosed” with several “mental illnesses” before that time. After 17 years of seeking an explanation for my experience through the lens of the “mental illness” paradigm, I was finally able to be cleared of all “diagnoses” and find a best-estimate explanation for my experiences through the framework of complex trauma.

    The paradigm of “mental illness” falls apart under analysis. The social situation in the country where I live (Australia) was such that the “mental illness” paradigm was considered unequivocal, unassailable “fact” back in 2012-2013 and prior. Although the paradigm is losing ground now, the situation is still such that psychiatrists are able to diagnose and involuntarily detain persons they believe have “mental illness”. The “treatment” administered often includes legalised abuse, such as being locked in rooms, being prevented from seeing family, forced medication and ignoring reports of complex trauma (often the comment is made “that’s just not traumatic enough – you must have a chemical imbalance in your brain” and diagnosis subsequently made and forced treatment administered).

    I understand this is an old article but the separation of “forces” leading to suicide from “diagnosed mental illnesses” to stress and trauma, as if these are separate things is disheartening.

    If we are genuinely committed to suicide prevention, it is very important to recognise that the widespread and unquestioned acceptance of the “mental illness” hypothesis and all that goes with it, not only mask the underlying causes of a person in distress but increase stress and truama, not only through stigma, but through “diagnosis” and “treatement” themselves.

    There is little evidence for the hypotheses of the “mental illness” paradigm, that is able to be separated from the hypothesis that all of the “symptoms” ascribed to “mental illness” are actually manifestions of a person under extreme stress, trying to cope with complex trauma.

    In my sister’s case, she was harmed and not helped by “diagnosis” and “treatment” for “mental illness”. I have also been harmed and not helped, as have a large number of others that I met through the course of being involved in the mental health system and a brief time working as a consumer consultant.

    I understand that it is acknowledged that the causes of suicide are complex and can’t be pinpointed. But surely we do have a responsibility as a society to acknowledge those areas of society that are in desperate need of reform. Surely we must begin to acknowledge – or at least consider – our mistakes?


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