Guiding the way

words: Sarah Bates, Support After Suicide Partnership

When someone is bereaved by suicide, it’s likely their world is deeply impacted. Some describe it as like the fallout of an atomic explosion, or a tidal wave crashing into their lives, seeming to drown them.

There are also the practical challenges of being suddenly bereaved and having to navigate the coroner’s system when they are already coping with the tragedy of losing someone they love.

In the UK, there is currently no statutory provision; suicide bereavement support comes from the charity sector, friends and family, and the services they come into contact with.

The Support after Suicide Partnership works with more than 60 organisations in the UK to achieve the vision that “everyone bereaved or affected by suicide is offered timely and appropriate support”. We do this through developing partnerships with organisations who work with bereaved people and families (including SAIF), research, developing and disseminating resources, signposting to support, advocacy, and working with change makers to increase the capacity of support in the UK.

We’re delighted to work in partnership with the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors.

Around 6,000 people a year die by suicide in the UK. As you may have experienced already, funeral directors are often at the forefront of providing support to a family. Perhaps the family live in your own community, and you may be the first person they’ve spoken to who has taken the time to listen to what they are experiencing. You are there for them at a time when everything may seem overwhelming. As funeral directors, you are often masters of patience, understanding, and being an open ear and a gently guiding hand.

We are also here to help you in delivering the best support possible. A new Central Hub is currently in development to provide resources, information and support for those commissioning services, supplying services, and organisations on the frontline of suicide postvention (i.e. reducing risk and promoting healing after a death).

The Hub will provide information on supporting people bereaved by suicide, the pathway to developing services, helpful information for those working on the frontline, such as funeral directors, and a library of resources. We hope to launch the website – the face of the Central Hub – by the beginning of June.

If you are currently supporting a family who have been bereaved or affected by suicide, a resource named Help is at Hand is free and full of emotional and practical support. It is available to view online and you can also order copies by email, detailing the number of copies you would like and a delivery address.

The website also has lots of practical and emotional information for people bereaved or affected by suicide, as well as a map of local support across the UK.

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