Dr. Jennifer Ashton discusses 'Life After Suicide'

ABC News' chief medical correspondent discusses her new book and what life is like for those coping after a loved one's suicide.
4:31 | 05/07/19

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Transcript for Dr. Jennifer Ashton discusses 'Life After Suicide'
We are back with our Dr. Jen Ashton who shared her family's painful experience after the suicide of her former husband and father of her children in her new book "Life after suicide: Finding courage, comfort & community after unthinkable loss," glad to talk about this again. I call it a painful experience but one thing you learned is sharing part of that pain is part of the healing process. It definitely has been for us, George. You know, when suicide hit our family, we felt like we were the only ones going through it, which I've now learned is a really common reaction, but it's estimated that for every death by suicide in this country that 135 people are directly affected. If you crunch the numbers, that's over 6 million people a year, so for us knowing that was really -- brought us comfort. For so many survivors so hard to share their stories. Yeah, because we feel like we have this Scarlett letter, you know, this "S" for suicide and even in 2019 it's not talked about. It's whispered about or there's so much blame and shame and anger and guilt and I think that the first thing we realize is talking about it, asking for help is the most important thing and for me as a doctor, it's so much easier for me to be the one giving the help than asking for it. And asking is so difficult so for all of us who may know someone who is a survivor what's the best way to reach out? You know, I think so many people, it's such a horrible situation for anyone to be in, people don't know what to say or what to do. Just have to be there. You literally -- you don't have to say anything. You just have to sit with someone or look at them or hold their hand or send a text saying I'm thinking about you and that is so helpful. Every time you come on to talk about this we see a huge reaction. We saw a lot of it yesterday again on social media. What have you learned about that and about from the whole experience that you want to bring to others. Oh, my god. I mean the social media response has been massive. We've learned so much that so many people are in this club that no one wants to be in. I think some of the things we learned because we're lucky to have had a lot of therapy is if you want to heal, you have to feel and if you fight that, you know, my therapist has a line that if you resist, it will persist and so you just have to go through it and, you know, we learned that this saying, I forget where it comes from but no one gets through life without pain but suffering is optional and this concept of posttraumatic growth which I had never heard before, it was actually developed by two psychologists in the '90s, and it describes how people's lives can actually change and our understanding of ourselves be so much deeper after a major tragedy and I definitely have experienced that. I know my kids have. A different appreciation for life as they say, death is the ultimate educator and -- Different people coming out of it. Yeah, absolutely, and I think that these are some of the five pillars which, again, I didn't know any of this before that it impacts sometimes for the worst but most of the time for the better your relationship with others, spiritual change can be a part of it, the finding of personal strength that we didn't really know we had and, you know, George, you've seen me through the last just over two years that -- since this happened and since rob's death and there are days that I feel like I'm the strongest person ever and there are days when I feel like the weakest person ever and there are also days that I feel like I'll never be the same but I think we're trying to look at the incredible inspiring stories of the people I interviewed for the book that shared with me the lessons they've learned and open this dialogue because if we don't talk about it we can't fix it. People have to know there are resources out there for them as well. And ask for that help. It's critical. Jen Ashton, thanks very much. "Life after suicide" is out today and proceeds will be donated to suicide organizations in rob's honor. If you're worried about a friend or loved one help is available. Call the national suicide prevention lifeline.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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