‘A suicide is like a pebble thrown in a pond. The waves ripple outward.’: Mom details reality of suicide loss, ripple effect of grief

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“A suicide is like a pebble thrown in a pond. The waves ripple outward.”

We have felt that first hand since losing our daughter, Dani. Our family was impacted more than we ever conceived possible. Our dear friends. Her dear friends. Our co-workers. Her co-workers. Her former classmates and former employers. The list goes on… and the waves ripple farther and farther out to sea. 

First Wave

When someone dies by suicide, the people impacted most dramatically are those closest to the person who died: family, friends, co-workers, classmates.

Second Wave

Those people who are members of an individual’s community, such as members of a faith community; teachers, staff and other students in a school; or service providers, may also be affected by a suicide.

Next Wave 

People who may not even know the person who was lost such as law enforcement and funeral home personnel (as in Dani’s suicide), friends and families of friends…

woman who is battling depression on hike overlooking view
Courtesy of Donna Mencini Heck

It is estimated that 115 people are exposed to a single suicide, with 1 in 5 reporting this experience had a devastating impact or caused a major-life disruption.

Steps We Can Take 

  1. Work to decrease stigma by talking about suicide and mental health stressors. 
  2. Increase support to community by not judging, getting involved in walks, and supporting those in the community who suffer a loss
  3. Help people in need access mental health resources. Places like NAMI, and even the resources on 33 Forever.

We need to bond together as families, communities, churches, organizations, employers, schools etc., to stop the ripple effect suicides cause. It’s not too much to ask, is it?

mom with daughter on the beach by the water
Courtesy of Donna Mencini Heck

If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help is out there. You are not alone.

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Donna Mencini Heck from Mansfield, Ohio. You can follow her journey on Instagram, her blog, and FacebookSubmit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from Donna here:

There Is No Right Or Wrong Way To Grieve; It Looks Different For All Of Us

‘How am I today? Terrible, thanks for asking.’: Mother candidly shares grief over daughter’s suicide

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