Help and Support for Those Bereaved by Suicide in the UK

By Caroline Harroe (Harmless CEO)

Suicide bereavement is the loss of a loved one to suicide. It is a devastating experience that can have a profound impact on those left behind. In the UK, there is a growing recognition of the need to provide support for those bereaved by suicide and a number of initiatives are underway to prioritise help for this vulnerable group.

One such initiative is the National Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021–2026, which sets out a number of commitments to improve support for those bereaved by suicide, including:

  • Developing and implementing a national bereavement care pathway for those bereaved by suicide.
  • Investing in training for healthcare professionals and other support workers on suicide bereavement.
  • Raising awareness of suicide bereavement and the support available.

Another initiative is The Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP), a coalition of organisations working to improve the mental health and well-being of people bereaved by suicide in the UK. The SASP’s aims and objectives are to:

  • Raise awareness of suicide bereavement and the impact it can have on individuals, families and communities.
  • Improve the quality and availability of support services for people bereaved by suicide.
  • Promote research into suicide bereavement and its impact.
  • Advocate for the needs of people bereaved by suicide.

The SASP works to achieve its aims and objectives through a variety of activities, including:

  • Developing and disseminating resources and information about suicide bereavement.
  • Providing training and support to professionals who work with people bereaved by suicide.
  • Funding research into suicide bereavement.
  • Advocating for the needs of people bereaved by suicide at the local, regional and national levels.

The SASP is committed to working with its partners and stakeholders to create a more supportive and inclusive world for people bereaved by suicide.

These initiatives are important because suicide bereavement can have a significant impact on the lives of those left behind. People bereaved by suicide are at increased risk of developing mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They are also at increased risk of substance abuse and suicide themselves.

It is important to provide support for those bereaved by suicide so that they can grieve and recover from their loss. Support can help people to understand their feelings, cope with their grief, and rebuild their lives.

Here are some of the ways that you can help someone who is bereaved by suicide:

  • Be there for them. Let them know that you care and that you are there for them.
  • Listen to them. Let them talk about their feelings and their loved one who died.
  • Offer practical support. This could include helping with household chores, childcare or running errands.
  • Encourage them to seek professional help. If they are struggling to cope, encourage them to seek counselling or support from a suicide bereavement support organisation.

If you are bereaved by suicide, please know that you are not alone. There is help and support available. Please reach out to a trusted friend or family member, or contact a suicide bereavement support organisation:

Harmless and The Tomorrow Project
The Support After Suicide Partnership