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Mentally Ill Parent’s Reaction to Losing A Child to Suicide

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Hello, I just wanted to know, if a mentally ill mother (specifically one who is a Paranoid Schizophrenic but on medication) loses her adult child to suicide, what would her reaction be?

Would she have a psychotic break and be institutionalized? Would she attempt suicide herself? Or will she be like most parents, in grief but eventually heal?

Mentally Ill Parent’s Reaction to Losing A Child to Suicide

Answered by on -


Hypothetical questions are difficult to answer. Predictions about human behavior are very difficult. In general, people are not good at knowing how they would react in any situation until they are faced with that situation.

People with schizophrenia tend to be hypersensitive to stress. In fact, one theory of schizophrenia involves the stress-diathesis model. This model theorizes that schizophrenia is caused by a genetic vulnerability that is activated by environmental factors or stressors in their lives. In other words, some individuals are more genetically vulnerable to developing schizophrenia than others. These individuals, when exposed to stressful events, may experience the development of illness symptoms. It would seem that on certain occasions stressful events trigger symptoms.

Assuming that model of schizophrenia, an event such as losing an adult child to suicide, would increase the likelihood of a psychotic break and needing to be institutionalized. Losing a loved one for any reason is an extremely stressful event even for people without the added vulnerability of schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. As mentioned above, no one could predict how she will react but the probability of there being a negative reaction is high. How long it would take her to overcome the loss of her adult child to suicide is anyone’s guess. No one ever really “gets over” the loss of loved one. One generally learns to live with the grief and the loss but how long that takes is different for everyone.

I can’t help but wonder why you are asking this question. Is it you who is considering suicide but are hesitant because you worry about how it would affect your mother with schizophrenia? If so, please know that suicidal ideation is evidence of immense human suffering. It causes a type of tunnel vision thinking that limits one’s ability to make informed decisions about their future and what is in their own best interest. People often consider suicide when they can’t think of any other way out of their situation and or when they feel overwhelmed by unpleasant emotions. If you are contemplating suicide, please contact a mental health professional or emergency services, immediately. They will help to protect you. Thank you for your question. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Mentally Ill Parent’s Reaction to Losing A Child to Suicide

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Mentally Ill Parent’s Reaction to Losing A Child to Suicide. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 16 Mar 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.