Suicide support: ‘Grief is as unique as a fingerprint’

Victoria signed up for Norfolk and Waveney Mind’s eight-week Anchor Project course, which gave her t

Victoria signed up for Norfolk and Waveney Mind’s eight-week Anchor Project course, which gave her the tools to get through the grief process of suicide loss Picture: Norfolk and Waveney Mind - Credit: Archant

If you or someone you know has been bereaved or affected by suicide, Norfolk and Waveney Mind offers a variety of support through its Complex Bereavement Service. Katy Hall, head of service operations for support interventions for recovery, explains how they can help.

Norfolk and Waveney Mind offers three projects to support suicide prevention and complex bereavement

Norfolk and Waveney Mind offers three projects to support suicide prevention and complex bereavement Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Bereavement is a complex experience which is shaped by many different factors such as culture and personal beliefs, so it is important that people are able to grieve the loss of a loved one in the way that is right for them.

At Norfolk and Waveney Mind, we recognise that grief is as unique as a fingerprint.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in demand for our Complex Bereavement Service in Norfolk and Waveney, which provide support and a listening ear for those who have been affected or bereaved by suicide.

Norfolk County Council Public Health and Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group is supporting the service in recognition of the need for suicide prevention and complex bereavement support in Norfolk and Waveney.

Victoria (back right) with her son Joseph (back left), his sister Sadie and stepsister Jodie having

Victoria (back right) with her son Joseph (back left), his sister Sadie and stepsister Jodie having fun trying on hats in a charity shop Picture: Norfolk and Waveney Mind - Credit: Archant


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Support is offered through three projects which are open to anyone over the age of 18:

The SAIL Project

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People bereaved by suicide are more at risk of dying by suicide compared to the general population.

The SAIL Project (Support After Immediate Loss) focuses on supporting people, emotionally and practically, in the immediate aftermath of their loss.

Support can range from providing a listening ear, giving emotional and moral support prior to and during the inquest, to practical help liaising with the Coroner’s Office, police and funeral directors.

The Anchor Project

Focusing on ‘postvention’ – activities which reduce risk and promote healing after a suicide death – this eight-week structured support group offers a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment where people can speak openly about their feelings and connect with others who have had similar experiences.

The Lighthouse Project

This important project aims to empower, educate and support communities and individuals to help prevent suicide.

It offers free suicide awareness and intervention training for anybody who lives or works in North or East Norfolk.

For more information visit www.norfolkandwaveneymind.org.uk

CASE STUDY: Suicide is ‘grief with the volume turned right up’

Victoria’s son, Joseph, took his own life last year, leaving five other siblings, Victoria and her partner. After arranging the funeral and dealing with the inquest into his death, Victoria felt very lost and relied on support from her family and partner.

She had a full-time job but when she went back to work, she changed to a part-time job.

“I searched the internet for bereavement support and my doctor arranged a counsellor too, but this wasn’t very helpful for me,” said Victoria. “Suicide is a different kind of grief, it’s grief with the volume turned right up. You go through all the ‘what ifs’ and you’re left with unanswered questions and the guilt of thinking you could have stopped them doing it.

“I feel my son’s pain every day, how he must have felt, how alone he felt. But I also felt very angry at him for doing it – it is very intense.”

Eventually, Victoria found information about Norfolk and Waveney Mind’s bereavement service on the internet and signed up for the eight-week Anchor Project course. 

“The first time I went along, I was very emotional and burst into tears when they asked me who I had lost and why I was there. They let me cry and told me not to worry as everyone in the group cried.

“I instantly felt very welcomed in the group. Over the following weeks, I was able to say out loud what I was struggling with in my head. Everyone listened and reassured me there was nothing I could have done any differently.”

In the last session, the group looked at acceptance. “Because suicide is so sudden, it’s very hard to accept,” said Victoria. “The course gave us all the tools to guide us through the grief progress of suicide loss. We shared photos of our loved ones, swapped numbers and we’ve stayed in touch.”

Victoria has not had any other help and feels she is now able to function again. “I still get waves of sadness and flashbacks and sometimes working and keeping the house ticking over gets a bit too much. However, I now know it will pass and settle down.”

Norfolk County Council Public Health has partnered with Archant to create a “Not Alone” supplement which raises awareness of the help and support on offer across the county. Click here to view the supplement.

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