Suicide is a dreaded topic in the traditional Africa yet it is slowly becoming an epidemic affecting young men and women.

In the latest reports, in central Kenya about five suicide cases are recorded in one day to 120 in a month. Men aged between 14-75 are the most affected lot compared to their female counterparts.

When one commits suicide, relatives are faced with the most challenging and complicated experience. This is because death by suicide is like no other. It comes suddenly with shock, a lot of whys, guilt, shame, denial, anger, loneliness and thoughts of suicide themselves.

Further, in most cases, they have to deal with authority or the press which seems like a constant reminder of the demise of a loved one. In some cases, the relatives will be asked to go and visit the place where the suicide occurred.

It is hard to understand this kind of grief as losing a loved one through suicide is overwhelming with mixed emotions. One cannot get over the loss but can get through with the right support system.

Below are suggestions of healthy ways on how relatives should cope with suicide.

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Express yourself

Talking, according to scientists is therapeutic. Those left behind can choose to talk to relatives, close friends or a professional on what and how the suicide of a family member has impacted their lives.

Surround yourself with people who are willing to listen when you want or need to talk. This will tackle the feeling of loneliness that comes with grief.

{ Read: Rasna Warah: I’m no longer contemplating committing suicide }

Ask for help if you need it

Acknowledging your feelings is the first step to get through the grieving experience. Accept the way you feel as it is okay to feel that way. Then reach out to someone who can listen or be a shoulder to lean on when you need it.

Expect relapses

Some days will be good and others will be a total nightmare, even years after the suicide happens. Know that it is okay to have these kind of days. Getting through this kind of grief does not happen in a straight line.

Take time to grieve

There is no formula of mourning a loved one. Look for ways that will help you grieve properly. If visiting the graveside or talking about them is too painful, then wait until you feel you are ready to do so.

{ Read: Early warning signs of suicide among teenagers }

Celebrate the life of the deceased

Remember the best life moments of your loved one. You can talk about it with other family members or write it down on a journal. Remember what they loved doing, for instance, taking photos, and frame their pictures as a way of honouring their lives.

Take care of yourself and your family

Eat well, have enough sleep and exercise to help you get through one day at a time. Keep away from triggers such as alcohol and drugs that may bring feelings of guilt. Check on other family members on how they are handling their grief. If you can help them, then do so as it will also help you heal in the process.

Join or form suicide relatives group

Interacting with people who have or going through the same experience can be very helpful. This can turn out to be a support system since you share something in common. Sharing your stories can bring a sense of purpose or strength.

{ See also: Citizen TV anchor reveals how she attempted suicide }

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About the Author

Brenda Gamonde is reporter with Business Today. Email: [email protected]

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