People who have been bereaved by suicide have used their experiences to lead the revision of a support guide to help others affected by someone taking their own life.
Help is at Hand provides people affected by suicide with both emotional and practical support. The most recent official figures reveal 6,233 suicides of people aged 15 and over were registered in the UK in 2013 and suicide has far-reaching effects among friends, family, colleagues, and the wider community. Those bereaved by a suicide are at increased risk of mental health and emotional problems and may be at higher risk of suicide themselves, so receiving the right support is essential.
For the first time, individuals who have been bereaved by suicide have been the principal authors of the guide, with support from experts at Public Health England (PHE) and the National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA). By giving editorial control to individuals with experience of bereavement for the first time it is hoped the updated ‘Help is at Hand’ will provide more relevant and personal guidance to others in this traumatic situation.
Amy Meadows, who project managed the revised guide said:
I lost my mum to suicide 6 years ago and at the time my family didn’t get any information to explain what to expect or advice about where to turn for help. That’s why I want to make sure that other people don’t feel isolated and alone like we did.
Everyone’s grief is unique, but people do not have to tackle the journey by themselves. I hope that by reading about others’ experiences in ‘Help is at Hand’ and seeing the specialist support that is available, newly bereaved people will get some comfort and reassurance that they are not alone, that they should talk about what has happened and that there is support available when they need it.
The guide is designed to be given out by bereavement support organisations and by those who are likely to be first on the scene after a suspected suicide, including police and ambulance staff. It will also be widely promoted online through partnerships with coroners, funeral directors, police, doctors and bereavement counselling and support organisations.
The redevelopment of the guide follows a cross-governmental strategy that called on a wide range of groups to work together to achieve a reduction in the suicide rate in England and to better support those bereaved or affected by suicide. Help is at Hand is part of a range of bereavement support materials available on www.supportaftersuicide.org.uk.
Community and Social Care Minister Alistair Burt MP said:
For too long, speaking about suicide has been seen as taboo – making sure people can get the support they need is one of the reasons this guide is so important.
Sometimes just the reassurance that you’re not alone is so important and it’s extremely brave of those who have been bereaved to help others in a similar situation by putting this guide together.
I hope this is widely used by health professionals and others to help ensure that no one has to go through this incredibly difficult experience alone.
Dr Annmarie Connolly, Deputy Director, Health Equity and Mental Health, PHE said:
Dealing with suicide of a loved one is a traumatic experience for anyone and dealing with the consequences of a suicide can be an isolating experience, with people feeling uncomfortable talking about it. By working with people bereaved by suicide we have learnt that there are a vast number of reactions and emotions experienced, which have now been reflected in the guide. The value of working in collaboration with people who have first-hand experience means that the support and resources offered are more effective.
Hamish Elvidge of the Matthew Elvidge Trust, and NSPA Co-Chair, said:
It is essential that anyone bereaved by suicide receives help and support during this extremely difficult and challenging time. Professionals, including the police, coroners and coroners’ officers, GPs, social workers and NHS staff will play a vital role in ensuring that this guide reaches all those people, who need emotional and practical support.
Help is at Hand is being launched at Manchester Suicide Bereavement Conference at the University of Manchester on Thursday 24 September 2015.
Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Website: www.gov.uk/phe.