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‘There is no quick fix’ - How charities support those affected by suicide loss

PUBLISHED: 14:41 10 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:13 10 October 2020

Hope after Suicide Loss is a charity supporting families affected by suicide and hopes to provide more support in Norfolk. Picture: HOPE

Hope after Suicide Loss is a charity supporting families affected by suicide and hopes to provide more support in Norfolk. Picture: HOPE

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A suicide loss charity has been “busier” during the lockdown period as it urges for support services to be more personal to meet those affected’s needs.

Suzy Clifford of Hope After Suicide Loss. Picture: Suzy CliffordSuzy Clifford of Hope After Suicide Loss. Picture: Suzy Clifford

Hope after Suicide Loss was founded by Suzy Clifford, after her husband Len took his own life in 2009.

Throughout lockdown, the charity said it had been busier has been able to take its peer support groups through Skype and provide 24/7 phone support.

The group offers peer support in Lowestoft and throughout Suffolk for anyone who has experienced suicide loss at any point in their lives and wishes to expand into Norfolk.

Mrs Clifford advocated more support was needed for suicide survivors, who faced a secondary risk of harm due to the psychological trauma caused by suicide loss. Figures from the Office for National Statistic showed a 17.6pc decease in the number of reported suicides in Norfolk in 2019.

(Left to right) Peer support worker Katrina Squires, Steve Foyster and Revd Canon Chris Copsey. Photo: NSFT(Left to right) Peer support worker Katrina Squires, Steve Foyster and Revd Canon Chris Copsey. Photo: NSFT

Mrs Clifford, from Bury St Edmunds, said: “What we think it rubber stamps is the need for a proper service, a service that does not try to short cut, that is not prescriptive, the people who lead it have truly been profoundly affected by their loss and can bring hope because they are bringing good evidence of a recovery.

“There is no quick fix, it’s got to be the right services. There has been a lot of improvement they are often tick boxing services that will not respond to the need.”

Mrs Clifford said it was to early to tell what the impact of lockdown could hold but the group will “stand firm” in its support and was always there for survivors to come back when they need.

She said; “It’s too early to tell. There may be an increase in suicides and our workload if our survivors are signposted to us. We’re not saying we have the monopoly on pain we’re saying its totally different.

“It’s not just our hearts that are broken, it’s our heads that are broken because we are trying to make sense of the senseless.”

Norfolk and Waveney Mind has a number of projects people who have been bereaved by suicide can access.

The Sail project supports individuals in the weeks immediately after their loss, with further support in the Anchor project which provides an eight week support group.

The group is there for people to share their experiences with others who have been through a similar loss.

We also run a suicide prevention project called Lighthouse in north and east Norfolk, which aims to reduce stigma, raise awareness and provide education and training for individuals and community organisations to help reduce and prevent suicide.

Also in the wake of losing a loved one through suicide, is the process of the coroner’s court.

For families experiencing coroner’s court, the impact of a coroner not ruling a death as suicide could be “dangerous” Mrs Clifford said.

As of July 2018, the standard of proof used by coroners to determine whether a death was caused by suicide was lowered.

Mrs Clifford said: “The person that suffer are the survivors because that will really do their head if they think it’s a suicide and that has been worded that that is not clear. They are thinking and talking like a survivor but not justified to feel the roller coaster of emotions that they are feeling because the legal document says otherwise. That can be dangerous.”

There to help them charity is trustee the Rev Chris Copsey, who lives in King’s Lynn, who serves as the chaplain to the coroner, a role she has held since 2010.

She said for many families coroners court could be a “daunting” place.

Mr Copsey said; “People are there when they are at their lowest point. Emotions may be running high, with overwhelming feelings of sadness, loss and even anger.

“I am keen to support a wider understanding of suicide and to minimise the stigma that still exists. Families have so much to contend with around unanswered questions and the huge question of why that understanding is vital without judgement from others especially prevalent on social media.”

“Everything that happens after losing someone in that way is very surreal.”

■ If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 116 123. Both services are available 24 hours 7 days a week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple & Android.


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