Central London Samaritans and Cruse Bereavement Support work together to help support people who have been bereaved by suicide.
Facing the Future
Suggested Reading List
- Core List
- Bereavement in general
- Incorporating an element of self-help
- For facilitators
- Other resources
- Children and Young People
- Silent Grief: living in the wake of suicide - Christopher Lukas and Henry Seiden, 2nd edition (London: Jessica Kingsley, 2007)
Lukas draws on his own experiences (several members of his family died by suicide) as well as those of many other bereaved people to explore the experience of being bereaved by suicide.
- Coping with Suicide - Maggie Helen, (London: Sheldon, 2002).
This book is aimed at those whose loved ones have taken their own lives. The book covers the reasons for suicide, emotional and practical issues, such as police involvement and arranging the funeral, and where to go for help.
- No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One - Carla Fine, (London: Harmony, 1999).
Powerfully written, honest account of the author’s experiences after her husband died by suicide and the experiences of many other people. Written to open-up awareness and discussion of suicide bereavement.
- A Special Scar: The experiences of people bereaved by suicide - Alison Wertheimer, (London: Routledge, 2001).
A Special Scar looks in detail at the stigma surrounding suicide and offers practical help for survivors, relatives and friends of people who have taken their own life. Fifty bereaved people tell their own stories, showing us that, by not hiding the truth from themselves and others, they have been able to learn to live with the suicide, offering hope to others facing this traumatic loss. This 2001 edition includes additional material on counselling survivors of suicide and group work with survivors. It also incorporates the latest research findings which added significantly to our understanding of the impact of suicide
- Why People Die by Suicide - Thomas E Joiner, (Cambridge MA: Harvard UP, 2005).
This is a very thoroughly researched proposition on a new theory to try and understand why people die by suicide. Joiner has lived experience of being bereaved by suicide and draws on this experience extensively. In attempting to make sense of his, and his family’s grief and why his father died by suicide Joiner realised there was a lack in empirical evidence and thoughtful interpretation in an area where there is a wide range of research and data. This book is a very considered attempt into a more coherent analysis. Whether this will answer everyone’s question: why is difficult to judge.
- Barber talk: taking pride in men’s mental health - Tom Chapman, Newark (Trigger Press, 2019).
… when he suddenly lost a friend to suicide, Tom knew that he wanted to do something to change the culture around men's mental health. Through his work as a barber, he recognised how important it was to encourage men to talk to each other.”
- The Other Side of Sadness: what the new science of bereavement tells us about life after loss -George Bonanno, (New York: Basic Books, 2006).
The conventional view of grieving--encapsulated by the famous five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance - is defined by a mourning process that we can only hope to accept and endure. In The Other Side of Sadness, psychologist and emotions expert, George Bonanno argues otherwise. Our inborn emotions - anger and denial but also relief and joy - help us deal effectively with loss. To expect or require only grief-stricken behaviour from the bereaved does them harm. In fact, grieving goes beyond mere sadness and it can actually deepen interpersonal connections and even lead to a new sense of meaning in life.
- Let Me Finish - Udo Grashoff, (London: Headline Review, 2006).
An anthology of suicide notes from the former East Germany that speak to all humans of universal themes of love and loss. Unfortunately, the persistent searching for answers and understanding is laid bare as a hopeless task.
- The scent of dried roses - Tim Lott, (London: Penguin, 2009).
Lott writes about his parents, in particular his mother who took her life in her late fifties, and about his own bouts of depression
- A voice for those bereaved by suicide - Sarah McCarthy, (Dublin: Veritas, 2001).
McCarthy writes about the impact of her husband’s suicide on her and their four young children
- An Empty Chair: Living in the wake of a sibling suicide - Sara Swann Miller, (iUniverse, 2000).
Focusing on the sibling relationship (including twins), this book tackles some of the specific issues that come with sibling loss.
- His Bright Light: The Story of Nick Traina - Danielle Steel, (London: Corgi, 2010).
This is Danielle Steel's powerful story of the son she lost and the lessons she learned during his courageous battle against darkness. Sharing tender, painful memories, Steel brings us a haunting duet between and singular young man and the mother who loved him - and a harrowing portrait of a masked killer called manic depression.
At once a loving legacy and an unsparing depiction of a devastating illness, Danielle Steel's tribute to her lost son is a gift of life, hope, healing and understanding to us all.
- Chase the Rainbow - Poorna Bell, (London: Simon & Schuster, 2017).
Punk rocker, bird nerd and book lover Rob Bell had a full, happy life. He had a loving wife and a career as a respected science journalist. But beneath the carefully cultivated air of machoism and the need to help other people, he struggled with mental health and a drug addiction that began as a means to self-medicate his illness. In 2015, he ended his life in New Zealand on a winter’s night.
In the search to find out about the man she loved, and how he arrived at that desperate, dark moment, Poorna Bell went on a journey spanning New Zealand, India and England to discover more about him. This is not only her story, of how she met the man of her dreams and fell in love, but also Rob’s story and how he suffered with depression since childhood and had secretly been battling addiction as a means to cope with the illness.
Bereavement in general
- On Death and Dying - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, (New York: Macmillan, 1969).
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance: the five stages of grief, first formulated in this hugely influential work forty years ago, are now part of our common understanding of bereavement. The five stages were first identified by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her work with dying patients at the University of Chicago and were considered phases that all or most people went through, when faced with the prospect of their own death. They are now often accepted as a response to any major life change.
This classic is ideal for all those with an interest in bereavement or the five stages of grief. It contains a new extended introduction from Professor Allan Kellehear. This additional chapter re-examines On Death and Dying looking at how it has influenced contemporary thought and practice.
- Grief works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving - Julia Samuel, (London: Penguin, 2017).
A warm, moving and practical guide to grief from a leading bereavement counsellor, Grief Works features deeply affecting case studies of the author's client
- It's OK that You're Not OK: Meeting grief and loss in a culture that doesn’t understand - Megan Devine, (London: Sounds True, 2017).
In 2009, on a beautiful sunny day, Megan Devine witnessed the accidental drowning of her beloved partner Matt. In her book Megan reveals a path for navigating grief and loss not by trying to escape it, but by learning to live inside of it with more grace and strength. Through stories, research, life tips, and mindfulness-based practices, she offers a unique guide through an experience we all must face
Incorporating an element of self-help
- I’ll write your name on every beach: A mother’s quest for comfort, courage and clarity after suicide loss - Susan Auerbach, (London; Jessica Kingsley, 2017).
A book written about the loss of a child to suicide. Includes memoirs, creative ideas and yoga/breathing exercises. A practical and caring guide to bereavement by suicide.
- Aftermath: Picking up the pieces after a suicide - Gary Roe, (Healing Resources Publishing, 2019).
Over eighty mini chapters each including a story ‘from the grieving heart’ and an ‘affirmation’. As if you are having a conversation with a someone who understands this ‘thing’ that has happened to you.
- Mindfulness and the Journey of Bereavement: Restoring hope after a death - Peter Bridgewater, (London: Ivy Press, 2015).
Both bereaved by suicide, and working as a bereavement volunteer, this is a personal assessment of the use of mindfulness techniques that allowed the author to regain a more fulfilling engagement with life. The reader is guided through the different aspects of grief. The ambivalence of mourners to move forward is well described, and the gentle persuasion to take a step expertly rendered
- Notes on Suicide - Simon Critchley, (London: Fitzcarraldo, 2015).
This is a very personal, and thoughtful, exploration of suicide: the historical influences, a literary appraisal of the suicide note and the author’s own psychological analysis of suicide. The reader is presented with clear and concise arguments for and against suicide with no judgement as to the conclusion. With compassion the author presents the complexity of being human, both in life and so in agency over death. Here is a space to continue a more meaning conversation about what suicide means to all of us, which in turn will allow those bereaved by suicide to be listened to and heard properly.
- Cry of Pain: Understanding Suicide and the Suicidal Mind - Mark Williams, (London: Penguin, 1997).
Suicide presents a real and often tragic puzzle for the family and friends of someone who has taken their own life or attempted suicide. 'Why did they do it?' 'How could they do this?' 'Why did they not see there was help available?' Cry of Pain examines the evidence from a social, psychological and biological perspective to see if there are common features that might shed light on suicide. Informative and sympathetically written, it is essential reading for therapists and mental health professionals as well as those struggling with suicidal feelings, their families and friends.
- When It Is Darkest: Why People die by suicide and what we can do to help - Rory O’Connor, (London: Ebury, 2021).
This book tries to untangle the complex reasons behind suicide. It has 4 parts; an overview; about suicidal thoughts; keeping people safe and supporting those vulnerable to suicide & those bereaved by suicide.
An in-depth but accessible book that may help those bereaved by suicide to gain a better understanding of why their loved one choose this option.
- The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia and Depression - Darian Leader, (London: Penguin, 2009).
Leader says that “In mourning, we grieve the dead; in melancholia, we die with them”. Using the arts and referencing Freud, the reader is guided through why it is important to mourn. Sharing case notes Leader does not shy away from the hard work mourning is but provides a much needed light for all of us to navigate something we will all face.
- Joey Essex: grief and me – BBC3
At age ten, Joey Essex's world was ripped apart when his mum tragically took her own life. Having long buried his emotions, after 20 years can he come to terms with his grief?
- Michael Mansfield QC interviewed by Laura Kuenssberg - Newsnight BBC2
Michael’s daughter, Anna Mansfield, took her life, in May 2015, aged 44
In this moving documentary Angela details the shattering aftermath of her husband’s death and discusses how she, her family and others navigate the ‘what next’.
Roman explores the mental health and suicide crisis affecting young men in the UK
- Losing It Our Mental Health Emergency – C4
- We don’t move on from grief, we move forward with it – TED Talk
Writer Nora McInerny shares her wisdom about life and death. "A grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again," she says. "They're going to move forward. But that doesn't mean that they've moved on."
- Growing around grief – Twitter
An animated illustration of how we ‘grow around grief’
- Life After Suicide Webinar – Cruse Webinar
A conversation between Angela Samata and Cruse’s Clinical Director Andy Langford in which they discuss grief after the suicide of a loved one.
- Help is at Hand: support after someone may have died by suicide - Public Health England and the Support after Suicide Partnership with support from the National Suicide Prevention Alliance
A valuable resource for people bereaved through suicide or other unexplained death, and for those helping them.
Children and Young People
- Luna’s Red Hat – Emmi Smid
An illustrated storybook for children aged 6+ who have experienced the loss of a loved one by suicide.
- Rafi’s Red Racing Car - explaining suicide and grief to young children - Louise Moir (Kindle only)
Illustrated storybook for younger children dealing with the loss of a loved one due to suicide.
- Red Chocolate Elephants: For children bereaved by suicide – book & DVD – Diana Crossley
Children’s writing and drawings of their experiences of bereavement by suicide at primary school level. A resource for adults looking to engage with children around the difficult question of death through suicide.
- Beyond The Rough Rock – Winston’s Wish
A specialist book, from the childrens’ bereavement charity Winston’s Wish, which offers practical advice to young people bereaved by suicide.
Generic Kids’ books
- A Terrible Thing Happened - Margaret M. Holmes
A book for children who have witnessed a traumatising event. Written for parents and carers to support the child
- Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute? – Elke Barber
Explains (sudden) death in words very young children can understand
- Muddles, Puddles & Sunshine - Diana Crossley
An activity book that encourages children to think about themselves, their feelings and the person who died
- Never Too Young To Grieve - Winston’s Wish
General advice and art activities for working with children under 5 whose parent has died
- When Dinosaurs Die - Laurie Krasny Brown
Illustrated book that simply, yet unambiguously, talks about dying (including suicide); funeral rituals and the afterlife (“where are they now?).
- Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler's Guide To Understanding Death –Bonnie Zucker
Explaining death to very young children (2 -3 years)