Kate Taylor-YoungJodi LabunJennifer Connolly

Available now

(647) 424-3408

Coping With Suicide Loss in Nova Scotia: Resources and Support

Mallory J Greene
Mallory J Greene
June 5th 2024 - 6 minute read
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Nothing can erase the life-altering impact suicide loss has, but there are organizations, counseling services, and support groups in Nova Scotia that can provide care and guidance as you grieve.

The devastation and trauma of losing someone to suicide is one of the most profoundly difficult experiences a person can go through. The roller coaster of intense emotions – grief, guilt, anger, confusion – can feel utterly unmanageable. In Nova Scotia, the rates of suicide are higher than the national average, leaving many families and communities shattered in the aftermath of these tragedies.

If you have lost someone close to you to suicide in this province, it's crucial to understand that you are not alone in this nightmare. While nothing can erase the pain and life-altering impact this loss has had, there are organizations, counseling services, support groups, and compassionate resources available to help provide care and guidance as you grieve.

24/7 Crisis Services

In the immediate aftermath of a suicide, or anytime you are having thoughts of suicide yourself, Nova Scotia has several crisis hotlines to call for intervention and emergency supports:

  • Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team: 1-888-429-8167 (for NSHA areas)
  • Canadian Mental Health Association (Halifax): 902-466-6600
  • Provincial Crisis Line: 1-888-429-8167

Caring crisis counselors are available 24/7 to listen without judgment, provide intervention and safety planning if needed, and connect you to local community services for survivors of suicide loss.

Suicide Grief Support Groups

One of the most meaningful supports after this type of loss can be connecting with others who have experienced a similar tragedy. Being able to openly share your story, feelings, memories, and experiences with people who truly understand the devastation can help provide some comfort and show that you are not alone.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) facilitates in-person support groups across Nova Scotia for those grieving a suicide death. There are groups in areas like Halifax, Bridgewater, Kentville, Sydney, Amherst, and more that meet regularly to offer this peer support in a safe environment. CASP also hosts online virtual groups.

You can also check with local hospitals, community centers, mental health clinics, or counseling services in your city to ask about any suicide loss support groups they may offer or be aware of in your area.

Counseling and Therapy

After losing someone to suicide, it's highly recommended to seek counseling and grief therapy from qualified mental health professionals. The trauma and grief can be extremely complex to process alone. Counselors and therapists with specific expertise in suicide grief can help provide healthy outlets, coping tools, symptom management, and support tailored to your unique situation.

Through the Nova Scotia Health Authority's Mental Health and Addictions program, you can access therapists and counselors who specialize in working with survivors of suicide loss. Your family doctor may be able to provide referrals, or you can try contacting the Provincial Crisis Line for connections to these services.

There are also many private therapists, counselors, and grief support practices across Nova Scotia that have professionals specifically trained in suicide grief therapy. A few examples are Transformational Grief and Healing in Halifax, and Cathartic Cup Counselling in Dartmouth. While private options require payment, some offer sliding scale fees, or coverage could potentially be available through employment or private health benefits.

Indigenous Community Services

For Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia impacted by a suicide, culturally-grounded support services are available:

  • The First Nations Crisis Line (1-800-588-8795) has 24/7 counselors who can provide emergency crisis intervention and connect survivors to local grief resources.
  • The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) has support services for those grieving losses connected to the residential school system trauma.
  • On reserves, community health centers offer mental health counseling services grounded in traditional Mi'kmaw teachings, ceremonies, and culturally-relevant practices that can help process suicide grief.
  • The Mi'kmaw Crisis and Trauma Support Services based in Membertou also provides counseling specific to this trauma.

Online Support Communities

In addition to local resources, there are online support groups, forums, and platforms dedicated to survivors of suicide loss that can be accessed anytime:

  • The Alliance of Hope Virtual Support Group hosts free online support groups facilitated by professionals.
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's private online forums allow you to connect with others grieving suicide.
  • Resources and guidebooks like those from the Dougy Center provide perspectives and frameworks to help cope with suicide grief.
  • Organizations like the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offer webinars, resources, and programs with content applicable to any survivor of suicide loss.

Self-Care and Living After a Suicide

Losing someone to suicide, whether expected or not, will create a seismic shift in your life. You may experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, trauma, anger, emotional numbness, and have difficult questions that linger without answers. These are all natural responses to such an unnatural tragedy.

It's vitally important to be patient and compassionate with yourself while navigating this loss. Pay close attention to your emotional and physical needs. Talk to your doctor if you're struggling, having thoughts of suicide yourself, or having challenges functioning. Don't isolate yourself – spending time with caring loved ones can provide solace.

Write in a journal to process the influx of thoughts and emotions you'll experience. Maintain routines, get sleep and nutrition, exercise when possible, and explore mind-body practices like yoga or meditation to help ground yourself during this tumultuous time. You may also find joining a grief counseling or peer support group to be therapeutic.

A Compassionate Community of Support

The devastation and trauma of suicide loss can test the limits of grief. But please know that no matter where you are in Nova Scotia, you don't have to go through this incredibly difficult experience alone. There are qualified mental health professionals, support groups, counseling services, and caring community organizations dedicated to providing compassion and guidance as you grieve this agonizing loss.

The road ahead will not be easy, but support is available to help you navigate and cope with the intense emotions, questions, and life changes this tragedy has thrust upon you. While grief may persist, reaching out for support can help provide human connection and tools to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The tragedy of suicide loss is devastating, but you have a community that wants to lift you up through this nightmare.

Here For You — Whenever You Need Us