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New support service for adults bereaved by suicide

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The county council and its health partners are launching a new support service for over-18s in Gloucestershire bereaved by suicide.

The new service which will be provided by Rethink Mental Illness, will give support predominantly to families and partners, however support will also be available for friends, colleagues, health and social care professionals, and those who may have witnessed the death. Support will be tailored to the individual’s needs. 

The service is being funded through NHS England/Improvement’s national suicide bereavement programme.

The support offered to adults bereaved by suicide includes:

  • 1:1 emotional and practical support beginning with six personalised weekly sessions with a Suicide Bereavement Worker, followed by six fortnightly sessions, and an option to extend if needed
  • Practical support including help to navigate processes such as talking to police, funeral arrangements, Coroner’s Court and inquests, responding to media and support to talk to employers
  • Bereavement counselling with volunteer counsellors, beginning with six to eight weekly sessions
  • Face to face and virtual bereavement peer support groups facilitated by a Suicide Bereavement Worker and a volunteer with lived experience of suicide. These will help people build connections, tackle the isolation they may be feeling and get support from others with similar experiences
  • Signposting and referral to other bereavement services as appropriate.

All support is delivered through a mixture of face to face, virtual channels, phone, email and text to suit the individual’s needs.

Everyone who uses the service has ongoing access to an exclusive online Gloucestershire bereavement by suicide forum hosted by a mental health online peer support platform called Clic. This moderated forum is available 24/7 to help people share experiences and gain peer support.

Professor Sarah Scott, executive director of adult social care and public health at Gloucestershire County council said “Losing someone to suicide causes intense grief and emotional distress for everyone impacted by the loss, and it can have a ripple effect which extends well beyond immediate family and friends.

“We want to make sure that everyone bereaved by suicide can get the support they need, when they need it and in a way which works for them.”

Cllr Tim Harman, cabinet member for public health at Gloucestershire County Council said: “Suicide is a tragedy for the person and their family and friends, leaving lives devastated.

“It’s important that everyone bereaved by suicide is able to access the right kind of sensitive support. I’m pleased that our new service with Rethink Mental Illness will be able to give people the personalised practical and emotional support they need to come to terms with their loss, during what is a very traumatic time in their lives.”

Dr Mala Ubhi, GP and Clinical Lead for Mental Health at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “People bereaved by suicide often express feelings of isolation and loneliness, so offering them support when they are particularly vulnerable and hurting is really important in helping them to cope and recover.  

“This service will help those who are struggling to know that they are not alone, that what they are experiencing is normal, and that there is hope for the future.”

Janice Laverick, Service Manager, Gloucestershire Support after Suicide Service, said: “After a bereavement by suicide, people not only have to come to terms with a range of complex and powerful feelings of grief; they will also be navigating a range of practical challenges.

“We’re here to provide support at one of the most difficult times in people’s lives, when they might otherwise feel lost or isolated in their grief. We’d encourage people in Gloucestershire who’ve been affected by suicide to reach out to us for support.”

To find out more about the service or make a referral for yourself or someone else, please call 07483 375 516, email glossupportaftersuicide@rethink.org or visit: www.rethink.org/glossupportaftersuicide

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