The Questions People Ask After Someone Dies by Suicide


There will always be questions after someone dies, but the questions people ask after someone dies by suicide are harder than most. If my daughter had any other life-threatening illness, I can imagine the questions wouldn’t be the same or even asked at all. When will this world realize depression is an illness, just as terrible as any other? Can you imagine asking accusatory and presumptive questions to a grieving mother who just lost their child to any other disease? Now ask me those same questions as a mother who just lost her daughter to suicide, and I will give you my answers:

Why didn’t you just tell her to be happy?  

Because she was sick!

But she didn’t act like she was depressed.

She never wanted to make people worry about her. She never wanted anyone to see her feel as bad as she did.

Wasn’t she taking medication for her depression?

Yes, she was. Sadly, the options for mental health treatments are trial and error. We never found the right medications for her.

Why couldn’t she just stop being depressed?

Because she was sick!

Did she even think about how the rest of us would feel when she took her life?  

Yes, she was so sick that she believed we would be better without her. The darkness that took over her thoughts didn’t allow her to see or feel the love we all have for her.

Did she even try to just be happy?

She tried with everything she had to fight the darkness that invaded every thought she had.

Questions that blame my daughter for her illness hurt. It shows just how much work is yet to be done to help people understand mental illness. The battle through any disease with your child is painful, scary and makes you feel helpless. We stand beside our children to battle their illness. We fight for treatments, go to war with insurance companies to cover their treatments and scrape together money for the treatments we find but can’t afford.

Through all this, we love our children and hold onto hope that we will get them through to the other side of their illness. Sadly, many of us lose our children to a disease even after a very long hard-fought battle. So please, before you ask a grieving mother why, know that illness is illness. You can’t will away mental health issues any more than you can will away any other illness.

a young woman on a door step

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.


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