Blog: Suicide bereavement

Published: 8 Aug 2018

Blog: Suicide bereavement

Around 6,000 people die by suicide each year in the UK. For each of these, another 135 people on average are affected, with many significantly at risk of themselves dying by suicide. The effects of ‘suicide bereavement’ are widespread but often unaddressed.

Although suicide prevention in the UK is a stated priority for the Government and NHS, there is no national specialist NHS support service dealing with suicide, and third sector organisations providing services to those affected by suicide are not funded adequately. As someone who is a researcher in this field and has also been bereaved by suicide myself, I understand the difficulties people in this situation face and how deeply concerning are these gaps in services.

In 2014 I travelled to Australia and New Zealand to see good practice in this field. Both countries are well ahead. Their governments give substantial funding to community services for support after suicide, while multi-agency working and collaboration between public and third sectors are common.

My Fellowship has helped to raise the profile of these issues in the UK. I have provided testimony to the NICE committee developing postvention guidelines in Primary Care and Custodial settings.

Below: Sharon with Jackie Doyle-Price MP

Sharon with Jackie Doyle-Price MP

Madeleine Moon MP, Chair of the APPG on Suicide Prevention, has become a champion of my work, citing it in the House of Commons and helping me to speak to members of Government, including Jackie Doyle-Price MP, a Minister at the Department of Health.

My Fellowship also gave me the confidence to start my own company, Suicide Bereavement UK, specialising in suicide bereavement research, training and consultancy for professionals who come into contact with this issue.

I am leading a national suicide bereavement survey at Manchester University, with the Support After Suicide Partnership. The survey, the world’s largest of its kind, aims to understand the experiences of those bereaved by suicide. I hope its evidence will persuade Government to act, so that those bereaved by suicide can access the timely and appropriate support they need.

Apply for a Fellowship

Read Sharon's report

Find out more about the new 'Suicide: prevention, intervention and postvention' award category

This article was first published in our 2018 newsletter. Read it here