Funding announced to provide bereavement support for those impacted by suicide

Family and friends of people who take their own lives will have access to personalised bereavement support in a bid to keep them alive.

Ministers say almost one in 10 people who experiences a loved one carry out suicide go on to attempt to kill themselves, while 8% drop out of work.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) is set to grant more than £1 million, shared across 10 areas, to assist those close to the dead.

The tailored care will be rolled out to all areas of the country by 2024 as part of an overall £57 million investment, said officials.

Mental Health Minister Nadine Dorries (pictured) said she had experienced the “indescribable pain” of losing a loved one to suicide “first-hand”.

She has previously spoken of how she failed to spot the “warning” signs when her cousin in Australia – whom she described as her childhood “soulmate” – took his own life.

In an article for The Times last month, Ms Dorries said she had experienced the “confusion, bewilderment and the enduring agony of why and if only” after finding out about his death.

“When a loved one takes their own life, those left behind can suffer indescribable pain and grief – something I have experienced first-hand,” said the Tory frontbencher when announcing the new injection of mental health cash.

“Every suicide is a tragedy, which is why I am determined to tackle its root causes. But it is also important to support those coming to terms with a loss, ensuring they have access to the right types of sensitive support.”

The Government said the type of support on offer would differ in each location.

In the London boroughs of Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster, there will be a designated suicide bereavement liaison officer.

Police and health care professionals will refer those in mourning to the liaison officers, who will offer one-to-one support.

Examples of the care on offer include being on-hand during inquests, as well as laying on support for up to a year. It will also be possible for people to self-refer to the service.

In West Yorkshire and Harrogate, a single point of access will be created to grant those in need a quicker, streamlined route to vital care.

The health provision will go beyond helping individuals, with training on offer for organisations and employers in the region on how to support their workforce if they have been bereaved by suicide.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, said while the initiative was “welcome”, more still needed to be done to help those feeling suicidal.

She said: “For anyone who has witnessed the anguish and grief of families and friends of a person who has taken their own life, these initiatives are clearly welcome.

“Sane’s concern however remains the 80% of people who call our helpline and talk of suicide, but who are in despair because they cannot access help at times of crisis.

“Alongside these measures we would urge the Government to increase funding for crisis beds and community teams, so that unnecessary deaths can be prevented.”

Claire Murdoch, NHS national director for mental health, said the new services would be a “lifeline” to those close to the deceased who are “at heightened risk themselves of experiencing mental health problems” following a tragedy.

Samaritans boss Ruth Sutherland said the care could “not come soon” enough given a suicide can plunge others in despair.

Research suggests that up to 135 people may be impacted by each suicide.

National mental health spend reached £12.5 billion last year, said DH, with the NHS long-term plan committing an extra £2.3 billion every year to transforming the care offer.

The 10 areas sharing the £1.08 million 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)
  • Devon (£88,000)

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