Attending the funeral of a suicide

Recently, someone I graduated high school with last year committed suicide. We were good friends or acquaintances in school, but outside the classroom we never really socialized and we didn’t keep in touch after graduation. It was very sad news that consumed my thoughts for several days. However, I chose not to attend his funeral (I didn’t know his family or close friends well, so I wasn’t missed).

The reasoning behind my decision was a matter of respect. I respected the friend I had in school, but to do such an inconsolably, irreversibly horrible thing to his family and close friends is something I cannot respect. He had every right as an individual to kill himself, but given how many people cared so deeply for him, I found his choice to be ridiculous, and as such, my attending his funeral with no respect to give would have been meaningless.

What do you think about situations like this? I’m not looking for vindication, and I stand by my reasoning, but it’s such a touchy subject so I’m sure there are differing views.

I cannot imagine making the choice to attend a funeral or not dependent on whether it was a suicide.
Either I’m close enough to the person who died (or their friends or family) to make attending the funeral appropriate, or I’m not. I don’t see what suicide has to do with anything.

Which isn’t to say I approve of suicide.

One doesn’t attend a funeral out of respect for the dead, but for the living. The family and friends get some consolation from seeing people there. Disapproval of the actions of the deceased are irrelevant. The family feels bad enough (horrible is the word you chose) without being snubbed by friends.

Since you say that you didn’t know the family or close friends, your attendance or not is probably irrelevant. But you asked what we think about such situations in general.

Yep. The dead guy is dead. He doesn’t give a shit.

If you don’t want to go to a funeral, don’t go. Nothing wrong with that.

Personally, I don’t hold it against people when they feel it’s necessary to take their own lives. More people seem to have your type of viewpoint though. Maybe it’s because I was miserably depressed and anxious for so long (even though a lot of people care about me), and gave some thought to suicide myself - although never any truly serious thought, or planning.

A year and a half ago I went to the funeral of a fairly close, very young friend of mine who killed herself horribly and in the spur of the moment (I know she was not at all suicidal the vast majority of the time). It was very sad but helped give me closure.

From the viewpoint of a family member of a suicide, I can say that it means something for friends or former friends of the deceased to show up and pay their respects.

If you were friends, even if it wasn’t recent, knowing that you once shared that bond reinforces some of the good memories and lets the family know that someone outside of them cared.

If you didn’t really want to go, that’s up to you, but had you, I doubt that your friend’s family would have thought it disrespectful.

Every situation is different. Many years ago, two friends of mine did that. Both had medical issues. (terminal cancer) In one case, I agreed with his decision, and would have held his hand while he did it, had he asked. The other, damn, it’s a tough call, I still have doubt he did the right thing. Or at least, he did it way too soon.

These are some of the most vexing and complex things we have to go through, I don’t see much of the spectrum of all this as all together making any sense, or driving groups of us to consensus.

Sorry about your friend, and sorry that for most of us, these issues never get to a satisfactory level of our comprehension. I’ve never been seriously suicidal, but I recall a time when I was totally indifferent about living, a state I have rarely seen discussed by anyone . . .

I don’t understand this reasoning. He was in such emotional pain he killed himself. Who is more selfish, the person who kills himself, or those who expect him to endure unspeakable pain so that they won’t feel uncomfortable?

Several years ago I attended the funeral of my SIL who committed suicide. She was and still is one of the best people I’ve ever known. For reasons unknown she was beset by psychological and psychiatric problems starting in her early teen years. She was smart, funny, incredibly intelligent and yet sick in a way that is incomprehensible to most. For over 20 years she went thru a multitude of therapies and numerous hospitalizations. Nothing worked. She tried the last drug therapy available to her at the time and it didn’t “work” either. She subsequently committed herself to an institution and committed suicide while under 24/7 suicide watch.

The minister at her funeral was wonderful. He explained to us the ultimate hopelessness she felt. He helped us understand why she did what she did. You might have gotten that closure at your friend’s funeral. Or not. YMMV.

It sounds like you were not very close anyway. Your presence/absence at your friend’s services matters only to you. You should let it go.

I try not to probe too deeply into the motives of a suicide, nor make value judgments about someone’s death.

If your friend had died from an accident while driving drunk, it still would have been “an inconsolably, irreversibly horrible thing to his family and close friends.” Would you have still stayed away from his funeral?

If your friend had a chronic illness and chosen to end his life rather than endure more years of pain, would you have stayed away?

A funeral isn’t about the dead person, it’s about the people left behind. Guests provide some comfort.

If you weren’t comfortable going, that’s fine, but choosing not to because you don’t agree with how the person died sort of misses the point I think.

As someone who has been in the past, and will be in the future, suicidal, it is the hopelessness that does you in. You don’t do it because you’re depressed now, but because at that point in time you feel that you will be depressed forever. You know that what you’re doing will hurt those you love, and that just makes the hopelessness worse.

This is only half true. Funerals wouldn’t exist if people had no sense of respect for the dead.

This is interesting. I’m not sure what the right answer is, or if there is one.

Sorry to hear that. I understand that my school friend was obviously dealing with severe depression and/or other mental problems, but the question goes back to Fear Itself’s post, i.e. can we condone suicide if so many people get hurt in the process? I suppose that last question is more important than stuff about attending funerals – I just thought it connected.

Like alice said in her post after yours, I suppose I may be missing the whole point of funerals. I still feel strongly about suicide, but I’m willing to bet that some people here with more experience and knowledge about the subject would be able to change my way of thinking.

I know it’s rather meaningless over the interwebs but;


I hope that you will have a better outcome than my SIL. Try not to give up hope for a better tomorrow. Better treatments are coming out everyday. Take care.


I didn’t attend the funeral of The Grandfather From Hell because it wasn’t physically possible, but if I could have, I would have - out of respect for my relatives who did care about the son’abitch. Later I would have celebrated (which I did) but in private (as I did).

I attended the funeral of my friend/coworker who died by suicide 2 years ago. It was of great comfort to his family and I was able to grieve for him with others who loved him and were sorry for how his life ended.

I don’t view suicide the same way as some people do, I suppose. He had a severe mental illness that caused him daily suffering and if he felt the need to end it once and for all, who am I to judge him? I suffer from physical pain on a chronic basis and have no intentions of following in his footsteps whatsoever, but I can 100% see why someone would. A life with constant pain/suffering is too much for some people to bear even if it’s peppered with sporadic joys or temporary relief.

I’m sorry for the loss of your friend.

I was going to say all these same things. Since you’ve said it at least as well as I could, I’ll just say: me too.

Thank you for saying this. It’s all too true.
To answer the OP: I agree with others who say that funerals are for the living moreso than for the recently departed. I know it would be a great comfort for me if any of my loved ones committed suicide, to know that the stigma wasn’t being passed on to those in attendance.

That said, I’m truly sorry for your loss.

Well, I agree with others who have said going or not mattered only to you, I’m sure, since you’ve been out of contact for some time.

I think it’s a good thing, you didn’t go. Being so judgemental about your friend, and his choices, that’s the very last thing, those who loved him and came out to comfort his family, in their darkest hour, would need to hear. I, for one, am glad you didn’t go.

I lost a brother to suicide, 3 yrs ago. If I’d have heard such, at the funeral, I’d have come undone, I’m sure.

I choose to believe, that some part of you, recognized you should probably keep your judgmental self away. I can respect that.