Bereavement by suicide is a risk factor for suicide attempt | Cruse Bereavement Care

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Comment on the study ‘Bereavement by suicide as a risk factor for suicide attempt’ published in BMJ Open

Cruse Bereavement Care has welcomed research from University College London carried out by Dr Alexandra Pitman et al, published in BMJ Open. The study highlights the difficulties faced by those who lose someone to suicide. Researchers found an increased risk of suicide attempts in those bereaved by suicide, and also found those bereaved by suicide were more likely to drop out of education or work.

Debbie Kerslake, Chief Executive of Cruse said: “The type of grief experienced by those bereaved by suicide is intense and the emotions experienced in the aftermath can differ from those following other types of death. Our ‘Facing the Future’ support groups, run in partnership with Samaritans, are a unique opportunity for those affected to share their feelings in a safe space. Cruse services across the UK are also available to support anyone bereaved by suicide, and our national helpline can also help.”

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: “Dr Pitman’s research is invaluable in helping us understand the complexities of this kind of grief and how much more vulnerable those bereaved by suicide really are, so that we can reach out and offer help in targeted ways.  The ‘Facing the Future’ pilot initiative offers highly specialist support groups to people bereaved by suicide.

“The groups are aimed at any adult who’s lost someone to suicide, no matter how long ago. The groups run for six weeks and allow people to talk to others who understand what they’re going through. They can open up, in their own way at their own pace, and start to develop coping strategies to deal with their loss. For many it will be the first chance they’ve had to really talk about what they’re experiencing.  Just hearing how someone else or another family is dealing with a suicide can help those who may be at risk to feel more hopeful about the future.”

Study author Dr Alexandra Pitman (UCL Psychiatry) said: "Our results highlight the profound impact that suicide might have on friends and family members. However, these outcomes are by no means inevitable. If you have been bereaved by suicide, you should know that are not alone and support is available. There is a guide called Help is at Hand, written by people affected by suicide, which offers emotional and practical advice as well as information on organisations that can offer further support.”

Find out more about the Facing the Future partnership.

You can find out where Facing the Future groups are currently running, or register your interest in future groups, here:

Full details of the study can be found here: Bereavement by suicide as a risk factor for suicide attempt: a cross-sectional national UK-wide study of 3432 young bereaved adults