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Question
Posted by: Amanda | 2004/10/10

Friend's suicide - need help to deal with anger

My friend, who was 54, committed suicide last week, after trying unsuccessfully to do so in July. Her family, knowing full well how depressed she was, all left home, her mother, brother and sister distanced themselves from her (they are conservative Afrikaans church goers). Her husband ignored her pleas for help and even ignored her last message to him, choosing to phone the police 24hours later, who found her dead. I am just so angry at everybody who let her down. I, and another friend of hers tried for months to help her come to terms with her problems, but in the end it was not us, but her family that she needed, who let her down. They did not even allow her last wishes to be cremated. I need to talk to somebody to help me work through my rage and sadness. I cannot afford a psycologist. Where do I go for help?

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Our expert says:
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Hello Amanda,
Hmm, not an easy task, this, ever, to face the suicide of a friend. As the story you tell shows, suicide and the threat of it, frightens people, and often frightens away exactly the people you would most expect to be able to be supprotive and helpful at such a time of crisis. And whatever the Church membership, true compassion is rare. But from what you describe, however exasperated the husband and family might have been, their behaviour is shocking. People who become severely depressed too often feel abandoned when this is not true --- this family seems to have lived out and portrayed her worst fears.
Even when absolutely nobody is in the slightest bit to blame for someone's death, anger, and a wish to find scapegoats towards whom to vent one's anger, is a common part of grief. And when others do indeed seem to have contributed to the disaster, how much more angry you must feel. Counselling is indeed deserced, here. Try calling lifeline, and see what they know of your most local resources for possibly free or low-cost counselling. The hospices are supposed to provide grief counselling, and should not limit it to those bereaved related to prior hospice patients. Check out what's available from your nearest medical school / university, which trains psychiatrists and psychologists.
It may be that her closer family found the situation just too exasperating ( when you care about someone who is in danger and won't accept good advice or help ) and frightening to bear. And maybe part of your anger towards others comes from a desire not to recognize some anger towards your friend herself, for leaving you, for not accepting all the help that was avail;able ( you don't mention her being under treatment, as she could and should have been ) --- and because, as an adult, she had the ultimate responsibility, herself, to seek and get the best available treatment for her condition.

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