There are, unfortunately, instances in which a person dies by suicide in a public arena. If you have witnessed the suicide of a stranger in a public place, what should you do? Should you just continue on as you were before and brush the incident off? After all, you never met the person in question and don't even know the person's name.
There is the time-worn adage, "a witness to violence is a victim of violence." Suicide is a form of self-inflicted violence and witnessing a suicide, whether you know the person or not, can be extremely traumatic. Trauma affects people in different ways. If you are experiencing any of the following, you might consider getting some help:
1. You avoid the area where you witnessed the suicide, even if it means taking longer to get to work, shopping, visiting family and friends. You experience overwhelming panic when approaching the area.
2. You are experiencing unusually violent dreams that upset you.
3. You are experiencing flashbacks around the suicide, e.g., certain smells, sounds and sights are coming back to you piecemeal and unnerving you.
4. You find time is distorted for you. You are late to appointments, early to lunch with a friend. You used to be able to tell what time it was without looking. Now you have no idea what time it will be when you look at your clock.
5. You are having difficulty sleeping through the night.
6. You are starting to isolate and finding it feels safer to be home alone.
7. You are spending more time alone eating or drinking alcohol.
8. You can feel yourself starting to shut down emotionally. You are no longer sure how you feel about anything.
9. You feel life has lost its lustre and you aren't sure what motivates you to get out of bed anymore.
10.You are catching yourself being compulsive. You find you are having difficulty stopping certain activities like cleaning, working and hand washing.
At the very least, a few visits to a sudden death bereavement therapist will help you clear up any feelings you might have about witnessing a suicide. The above list is only a partial one, but each item describes a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. In any case, it never hurts to ask for help!