Is someone dying by suicide worse than murder to relatives?

I remember reading a heated debate on a “Sanctioned Suicide” forum, where someone was saying that suicide was the worst way to lose someone, even worse than murder.

I find that a bit insane no… There’s no doubt that suicide is almost certainly more devastating than a natural death to many people but I would rather the ones I care about die from suicide than murder. Maybe I’m in the minority though.

Just a WAG here but I assume that losing a loved one to suicide could create feelings of guilt in the survivors. “What didn’t I see? Could I have paid more attention to what was right in front of me? Could I have saved them?” These feelings are not likely to be present to the same degree if the fatality was the result of a homicide. Naturally this doesn’t mean that homicide doen’t create it’s own brand of grief/anger. These feeling, most likely, are not going to be perceived as a personal failure though.

I feel like suicide would be harder to deal with than murder. With suicide, there will be a lot of guilt from those left behind because they’ll feel like they should have done more. That’s not there from a death from a sudden, random event. If someone is murdered or dies in a car accident, I won’t feel guiltly that I didn’t notice the signs or that I did notice the signs and didn’t do enough.

Also with murder, the victim likely didn’t experience a dark mental state for an extended period of time before hand. So from an empathy perspective, I will feel bad that the victim of suicide had to experience the depressive mental state for so long. That concern isn’t there for the person who dies from a random event.

This is exactly it. My maternal grandmother led a trainwreck of a life and killed herself in early 1981. It is very apparent she committed suicide, but my Uncle (her son), his wife, and a several other family members are convinced she was murdered. My mother accepted from Day 1 it was suicide. It is a taboo subject when they are around, Mayree’s suicide is not discussed. All these years he has been in denial, he just can’t handle the guilt and shame of it all. It makes him feel better to believe she was murdered.

Murder by its nature provides a ready made person to whom blame can be assigned. Suicide is much less clean cut and since we like to believe that human circumstance is a result of human choice we feel the need to find a rational explanation of the death when often there isn’t one. This can lead to a lot of self blame particularly if we seek to avoid “blaming the victim”

I have not lost a loved one to either, but I imagine the grief of suicide is compounded by guilt, because one feels one should have done something.

With murder, though, there’s also the possibility of dwelling on the suffering of the victim, depending on what murder method was used.

Not necessarily. I had a good friend, the son of a colleague, murdered by his “ex” when he was only 25 years old. There was a lot of second guessing and regret on the part of his parents and brother because he had broken up with her several times, but she was always fanatical about getting back together again. She was obviously exhibiting classic possessive, stalking behavior, but nothing was ever done about it, and no precautions were ever taken. They had and still have a lot of regret to this day that they they were blind to the situation.

Having lost a sibling to suicide I’m going to say it’s worse because there are no answers to find. With a murder there are answers to find, as disturbing as they may be.

And I suspect if you lose a child to murder you still suffer enormous guilt of the ‘I wasn’t able to protect them!’, type, even if it was not possible for you to have foreseen any danger.

Thus my “most likely” qualifier. People and situations are different and nobody can say how someone else can and should feel about a very personal tragedy. On average though, I believe it’s correct to say ‘survivor guilt’ is more common after a suicide than a homicide.

Some folk lump all self deaths the same. Some people were upset at the thought their loved ones jumped from the WTC. Those people didn’t commit suicide, they just sped up their own murder. There is no shame there. I’m not sure there should be shame in committing suicide to end a life of terminal cancer.

OTOH, I had a friend who, at 19 years old, got into a fight with his dad, and ran home and blew his own brains out before anyone could say or do anything. I actually wish he had been murdered, because then I wouldn’t still be mad at him 6 years later.

There could be certain types of murder which are worse: they didn’t find the body, they didn’t find the killer, the killer wasn’t convicted at the trial…

I would like to ask what these folks would have preferred - for their loved ones to suffer much more by staying in the WTC instead?

I saw a documentary a few years ago, where some reporter tried to identify “the falling man”, who he believed to be a cook at Windows on the World. The family, who was Catholic, adamantly denied that it was their father/husband, because there is some Catholic rule that if you commit suicide, you won’t get in to heaven. I’m sure they would have preferred that he suffered more on earth, so he’d be in heaven for eternity.

Good point. I certainly wouldn’t be upset at the thought of the suicide (the act itself) in that situation - never knew anyone was - and I don’t think I’d think of it as suicide.

I also think “terminal disease suicide” would be easier on the families. At least, families of the elderly. I expect it’s harder when the deceased is a younger person, especially if the loved ones keep thinking maybe they could have survived, maybe a cure could have been found. Similar for non-terminal, but debilitating physical degeneration. Especially people seem to understand with dementia incoming. So many people think they wouldn’t want to live that way, though some choose differently when they are older. Though there will be some loved ones who will be “didn’t he think I’d take care of him” I don’t think that’s most people. Less self-blame there, more blame for the disease.

But the more the family can understand the deceased action, I think, the more they can accept it and the less emotionally devastated by the act of suicide (not the death, the act) they’ll be. If someone could see themselves taking that same action, then it doesn’t impact the same way. Which is probably one of the reasons I think it’s harder when it’s depression - people can’t put themselves in the mindset, see themselves in position, and so can’t accept the act as readily and may self-blame they could have stopped it, made it better.

My comments do, however, refer to adult family members, not children.

This and a lot more all wrapped together. We were part of the TCF (The Compassionate Friends) siblings group after my BIL killed himself and we met people from both sides of the OP. Murder had anger with sometimes some guilt mixed in (why did I let him live in that neighborhood, what if I had been there to help, etc) but suicide had as much guilt as it did anger. And the person we were angry with was both the victim and the killer all rolled into one. I am NOT against end-of-life decisions but having been on this end of things, I am going to be one of those who goes out kicking-and-sceaming every inch of the way.

That family is a few decades behind the Vatican, then.

I lost my 46 year old brother to suicide almost 10 years ago. The problem was that I intervened in this last attempt and he was transported by life flight to a local trauma hospital in Pittsburgh where they revived him.

On the day this happened he had been living in the house with my elderly father who called to enlist my help in the situation. This was the third time that I was called upon to intervene in one of my brother’s suicide attempts.

The second one which occurred 3 years prior had sent him spiraling into one of the most bizarre manifestations of psychotic behavior I had ever seen personally or professionally.

I am a masters educated social worker and have seen quite a bit in my work but I never saw the kinds of behaviors he exhibited at that time.

One of the most unusual was “clanging” which was a type of speech that consistently rhyme with every sentence.
Back to his last attempt in 2008.
He had a series of strokes from all the blood loss subsequent to slicing his arms and neck and taking an unknown amount and kind of medication. He was left in a vegetative locked in state where all he could do was communicate with his eyes. He couldn’t drink or eat or move any part of his body for 3 months.
It was excruciating.

The medical team wanted to meet with me to withdraw his food and hydration so that he could go peacefully but I was torn. I was willing to do this but needed to know the details so I scheduled to meet with his medical team.
I asked him if he wanted to die and his eyes lit up with a brilliance that could only be communicated as “What are you waiting for!”

My brother was not a well loved individual.

He had a troubled life for many years and had lost friends due to his behaviors. He was diagnosed with a number of psychotic conditions that included bipolar with psychosis symptoms, paranoid schizophrenia, and others. He had been molested at 11 and started smoking pot at that age. He used IV meth for a period but recovered enough to hold down a job and a small apartment. He was gay at a time when families weren’t so accepting although my parents never abandoned him. My mother died when we were young so my father dealt with the brunt of all this.

My brother was diagnosed with AIDS in the early nineties and started on the cocktails of drugs available at the time. He also had hepatitis C.

on the day I was coming home from a visit with him at the nursing home where he had been moved from the hospital my son was killed in a car wreck

As I was driving home from the city 911 called me on my cell phone and told me that someone would need to meet me at my house. They had my number because they knew me as they operate as our child welfare answering service (where I work). Of course they would not tell me what happened but I knew.

That said I don’t really know if a murder would have been better or worse. My brother was attacked several times in the late 1980s and nearly killed and those events were devastating. He was beaten and anally raped by police officers in New Orleans. He was left on the side of the road to die but somehow survived. Again, I could go on and on with these kinds of stories but I’ll stop here as I think I’ve described his situation sufficiently for this post.

Had he been murdered it would have been heartbreaking. But there would have been someone to blame besides myself. I always feel that I could have done more although I dedicated as much of my life to him as humanly possible. I never really had much of a life until everyone died and now I don’t really have all that much motivation to keep going myself. But I manage.

Sorry for the long post. The ten year anniversary of both my son and brother’s deaths is coming up. I can’t believe it has been that long. Some days it is a raw as it was in the beginning. Other days I can sail through pretty unencumbered.

Suicide is never easy on the survivors.

I believe that suicide should be legal for persons suffering from incurable illness and/or intolerable pain, but I also agree with whoever said that it can’t be worse on a family than murder. Suicide leaves the survivors thinking that they could and should have done something different to avert the death of the loved one. It is more certain even then a witnessed murder to dump guilt on those left behind.

I had a relative who was murdered, and she suffered a hell of a lot. She was held captive, raped, and her death was slow.

The worst part of the whole thing was that her two very young children were the ones who found the body. Now, I suppose that could happen with a suicide, but in this particular situation, there is pretty good evidence that this was by design. Her daughter bounced back, somehow, but her son never really did, and it’s been more than 20 years.

The person who did it was someone known to her, and she had said she was afraid of him, but no one took her seriously. He seemed kind of nebbishy and harmless, if not the most pleasant person in the world. I guess she knew what she was talking about, though.

I was only 19 when it happened, and not really in a position to do anything, but people who were, I know have felt differently. There was a lot of guilt to go around, and for a while, some blaming of one another.

For me, I can’t help thinking that she knew she was going to die, and she didn’t want to. She wanted to see her children grow up. As much as people who commit suicide may have “needed” saving in the eyes of the rest of the world, they did make their own choice. No one chooses to be murdered.

I know people who have committed suicide, although, none were relatives. The most recent was a friend’s 13-year-old daughter. That was particularly devastating.

But the rape-murder of my aunt was the most upsetting death I have ever experienced.

I suspect the answer for most people would vary with why the person who committed suicide did so. I think you’d get a different answer if you were asking about someone who was terminally ill and in pain versus someone who had a possibly treatable mental illness. It would probably also vary based on the religious beliefs (or lack thereof) of the family members of the person who committed suicide.