Dedicated bereavement support is to be made available in England to family and friends of people who have taken their lives through suicide, the government has announced.
Minister for mental health and suicide prevention Nadine Dorries said it was important to tackle the root causes, but at the same time “support those coming to terms with a loss”.
“When a loved one takes their own life, those left behind can suffer indescribable pain and grief – something I have experienced first-hand,” she said.
Ten areas will benefit initially from the £1,082,000 fund, and support will be implemented in every region across the country by 2023 to 2024, as part of a commitment set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.
The 10 areas are: North Cumbria (£256,000), Derbyshire (£71,000), West Yorkshire and Harrogate (£173,000), Nottinghamshire (£63,000), Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (£64,000), North Central London (£87,000), North West London (£113,000), South West London (£69,000), Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire West (£98,000), and Devon (£88,000).
The type of support on offer will vary from region to region so it links in with existing local services, with support ranging from one-to-one sessions with trained volunteers or counsellors, group support, or signposting to specialist mental health services.
In South West London, a designated suicide bereavement liaison officer, to be hosted by Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster Mind, will be created. The liaison officer will receive referrals for support from police and health care professionals and will proactively contact the bereaved to offer one-to-one support.
In West Yorkshire and Harrogate, a single point of access for those in need will be created to grant people a quicker, streamlined route to vital care. This will sit alongside one-to-one sessions and group support, support with coroners, signposting, peer-led groups and memorial events, and training for organisations and employers on how to support their workforce if they have been bereaved by suicide.
Claire Murdoch, NHS national director for mental health, said: “Suicide is a tragedy for both the person and their family and friends – with lives devastated as a result.
“These new post-crisis bereavement services will be a lifeline for families and staff who are at heightened risk themselves of experiencing mental health problems.”