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Support after suicide

10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day. Here at Tester & Jones, we’ve supported many local families through the untimely death of a loved one – whether through illness, an accident or suicide. While our team has had training to help us support families after a suicide, it doesn’t take away the feelings of despair and confusion that families feel, on top of their obvious grief.

We are proud that our industry organisation, The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) – which represents over 900 privately-owned, independent funeral homes across the UK – is part of the Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP).

SASP is a UK wide network of over 70 members and supporters founded in 2013 to bring together national and local organisations that are involved in delivering suicide bereavement support across the UK and to address the need for formal, multi-agency, proactive suicide bereavement support. It is special interest group of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) based at Samaritans.

Its vision is that ‘Everyone bereaved or affected by suicide is offered timely and appropriate support’.

SASP states: “We are working in partnership with SAIF to help develop suicide bereavement training resources for their staff, so they can feel more confident in their ability to support individuals bereaved by suicide; from knowing what’s best to say and possibly not to say, to how to connect with their local suicide bereavement support services.”

“Funeral directors work with people bereaved everyday and can be at risk of the effects of vicarious trauma. They will often be one of the very first professionals to spend an extended period of time with a family bereaved by suicide following a loss, and so it is important that this time is effectively used to offer support and guidance to families going through this experience.”

“We know that every person bereaved by suicide will need to visit their local funeral director. This means that collaborating and connecting with funeral directors, equipping them with knowledge of their local and national support, and suicide bereavement support resources, ensure that every bereaved person receives fundamental signposting information. It is also important that funeral directors feel secure in their ability to support people bereaved by suicide, as well as that they know where and how to access support when they may be struggling to cope.”

Having supported a number of families as they cope with the suicide of a loved one, we have found that there are number of things one can do particularly to remember that person – including making a memory box which includes photos and precious items, perhaps writing about special times or keeping a journal of your feelings. Moving forward, some people light a candle on significant days, such as a birthday or anniversary.

Find out more about SASP and if you need more timely support, you can call the Samaritans free at any time, 365 days a year on tel: 116 123.

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