Saturday, August 26, 2017

Siblings Suffer After Suicide But Go Without Help to Heal

After a suicide, sibling survivors are often overlooked

Cheryl Platzman Weinstock
August 25, 2017 
"I think people don't understand how profound a loss of a sibling can be. They help shape your trajectory and sense of self." Julie Cerel, a psychologist and president of the American Association of Suicidology  

Ryan Steen (left) found himself "on edge" and isolated for years after his younger brother, Tyler, died by suicide. 

When Taylor Porco's brother, Jordan, died by suicide during his freshman year of college in February 2011, people told her to be strong for her parents, who were incapacitated by their grief. Hardly anyone seemed to notice that Porco, only 14 at the time, was suffering and suicidal.

"I was really depressed and in such extreme pain. Nothing, literally, mattered to me after he died. All I wanted was my brother back. I never loved someone as much as I loved him," she says.

Porco's experience is hardly unique. Approximately 25,000 people each year become sibling survivors of suicide, according to the support group, Sibling Survivors of Suicide Loss. Those who lose a sibling to suicide at any age can experience anger, complicated grief reactions, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and thoughts of taking their own lives.

Until recently, these survivors often fell under the radar. They were overlooked in medical research, and no one understood what they were going through or how to support them. But, according to several studies of survivors, those who lose a sibling to suicide, especially one of the same sex or close in age, have more serious mood disorders and thoughts of suicide themselves than survivors who lose a sibling for any other reason. 
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