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