World Suicide Prevention Day was marked yesterday by the launch of an improved and extended Somerset Suicide Bereavement Support Service funded by Somerset County Council.
Somerset is one of just a handful of places in the country to have had a service since 2012, and it is now being expanded to help more people when they really need support.
Supporting people affected by suicide is an essential part of suicide prevention. When someone dies by suicide, the shock is profound and widely felt by families, but also by friends, colleagues and professionals.
They describe profound distress, guilt, searching for explanations and stigma. They may struggle with work or relationships. They may develop their own mental health problems. They may themselves feel suicidal.
The new service offers one-to-one emotional and practical support immediately following the bereavement and can also help people through future issues as they arise.
Other support includes facilitated peer support groups, specialist suicide bereavement counselling, drop-in to four monthly local suicide bereavement surgeries across Somerset, support and advice to professionals, telephone support with the option to go through to the Samaritans if no one is available to answer the call and co-ordination of a Bereavement Network of statutory and voluntary sector organisations who offer a range of bereavement support services.
Cllr Christine Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Public Health at Somerset County Council said: “Today – and every day – we want to raise awareness that suicide can be prevented. Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy. There are so many ways in which services, communities, individuals and society as a whole can help to prevent suicides and the devastating impact on individuals and their families. This includes raising awareness about the issue, educating ourselves and others about the causes of suicide and questioning the stigma associated with suicide, suicidal behaviour and mental health issues.”
Dr Andrew Tresidder, a Chard GP and GP Safety Lead for NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The tragedy of a completed suicide may happen in the context of mental illness, and also in the context of a catastrophic loss of hope. Helping prevent suicide is everybody’s business, to ensure that people have hope in life. You may never know that your smile or kind word has given someone the hope to live at a time of desperation – and that you have prevented a serious outcome.
“A tragic death affects scores of people, and cuts short a life of promise – so it is up to us all to build hope, emotional resilience and well-being in society. Kindness and respect are powerful medicine – and to inspire someone with hope is even more powerful.”
For more information about the Somerset Suicide Bereavement Service, click on https://www.mindinsomerset.org.uk/our-services/adult-one-to-one-support/somerset-suicide-bereavement-support-service/
Please contact the Samaritans if you have been affected by the content of this article. Volunteers are on hand who are ordinary people who provide a safe place for people to talk. Tel: 116 123, email firstname.lastname@example.org or click on www.samaritans.org