How do you help a family bereaved by suicide?August 23, 2018 // No Comments
SAIF thanks Sarah Bates, the Executive Lead of the Support after Suicide Partnership (SASP) for this month’s external blog.
At SASP we are working with SAIF so that, together, we can support those who come through the door of a Funeral Directors’ after a suicide. We would also like to support Funeral Directors who work with these families. I recently gave a webinar for SAIF, and I wanted to share some of the key messages with you.
When someone dies by suicide, 60-135 people are bereaved by the death. As funeral directors, you are likely to meet the people at the heart of the devastation – the family. You are often the first professionals who spend more than a few minutes with the grieving family, which puts you at the coalface of suicide bereavement.
Arranging a funeral for someone who died by suicide can be hard; the death is often sudden and complex, the family are likely to be deeply shocked and traumatised, having been plunged into a world of police, coroners, inquests and grief with the volume turned up.
Some of the best ways you can support someone is to normalise the situation for the family. They may be apprehensive that they will be treated differently, even with disdain, because the death was a suicide. Treat the funeral arrangements as if it were any other funeral. The family may also want to talk a lot about the death, or not talk about it at all. As with any other death, different members of the family may have very different feelings and reactions.
SAIF Past President, Paul Allcock believes, “One of the best ways to support families is to allow them the space to be able to tell their story, while we listen and support them.”
There are some free resources out there to help. Help is at Hand is a booklet full of emotional and practical support for someone who may have been bereaved by suicide. Finding the Words is also free, and is a booklet for how to support someone who has been bereaved by suicide.
Research project into suicide bereavement
The University of Manchester in collaboration with The SASP are conducting a national study of suicide bereavement. The research aims to gain insight into the impact of suicide on people’s lives. We would like to give as many people as possible the opportunity to share their experience of being bereaved or affected by suicide. This survey is relevant to Funeral Directors who have the difficult role of dealing with issues around suicide, caring for the deceased and the bereaved families. For more information about the survey and to take part, please click this link.
The survey is in its final weeks now, with closing date of 31st August 2018.