Those left behind by suicide need support with their grief, and a new partnership has started to help deliver that support by two mental health charities; Support in Mind Scotland in Highland and Argyll and Bute and with Penumbra in Ayrshire and Arran.
The new service provides person-centred, compassionate and emotional support to people who have been impacted by the loss of a loved one to suicide. The expertly trained staff help with practical tasks such as providing guidance around arranging funerals or talking to the procurator fiscal. That service has expanded rapidly since its launch, with a full team of seven people now working across the Highland area. Initially taking referrals through Police Scotland, referrals are now taken from mental health teams, GPs, Scottish Ambulance Service and the wider community.
Support in Mind Scotland Chief Executive Nick Ward stated: “Suicide has a devastating effect on families and friends. This pioneering pilot project is vital to support those who are left behind. For too long stigma around suicide has meant that many have shied from tackling it, but now we are seeing genuine collaboration to address suicide bereavement and the damage and hurt that it causes to so many.”
This pioneering new service has also received acclaim from those working to prevent suicide in the Highlands. Police Superintendent Lindsay Tulloch said: “Police Scotland welcome the new Suicide Bereavement Support Service, which enables us to offer this rapid response service to those who have tragically lost a loved one to suicide. One life lost to suicide is one too many but knowing that this service is available to support and guide bereaved families is a huge relief to our officers who are attending and dealing with these tragedies.
“As Chair of the Highland Suicide Prevention Steering Group we are working collaboratively to deliver a preventative and pro-active approach to supporting people in our Highland Communities who have been affected by suicide. We know that the impact of suicide is far reaching and services such as this will not only provide much needed support at the right time but also help to reduce the stigma associated with suicide and ensure that people affected by suicide know that they are not alone. Suicide is preventable and it is everyone’s business.”
Malcolm and Rosie Gillespie, founders of Ewen’s Room, said: “When we lost Ewen to suicide in 2008, we received amazing support from the local GP surgery, psychiatric services and our friends, helping us through a horrendous time.“However we know that is not the case for everyone who finds themselves in this terrible situation, and we wholeheartedly support this new service which is already providing invaluable comfort, help and advice to families in the Highlands, tragically bereaved by suicide.”Patrick Mullery, founder of James Support Group, said: “The Suicide Bereavement Support Service is well funded and comes at a time when suicide & poor mental health are rising. It is much needed, and James Support Group are delighted that there is at last a specific service provision for those who are bereaved by suicide. Our hope is that this service will develop and help stop the culture of Suicide Clusters, which devastates whole communities.”Support in Mind Scotland is an award-winning national mental health charity with nearly 50 years’ experience of delivering services and support to those affected by mental illness, including families, friends and carers. For more information email the Suicide Bereavement Support Service at [email protected]
Jim Hume, Director of Public Affairs and Communications. Support in Mind Scotland