Grief and suicide bereavement are key topics of discussion in a suicide loss support group.
For more in-depth information on the topics below, please see pages 32–40 in the handbook.
Talking about grief
Listening to stories of loss
Listening to stories of grief and pain is an essential aspect of facilitating. For group facilitators who have their own experience of suicide loss, this can be especially difficult. Looking after yourself and practicing active self-care is important, please see the Sustainability and self-care page for ideas and advice. You may also like to consider seeking supervision. For more information see pages 41–44 of the handbook.
Managing difficult or sensitive situations
As a facilitator, it is useful to work out ahead of time how you may respond in difficult situations, for example when a group member is very upset or there is conflict in the group. Discuss this with your co-facilitator(s).
Most importantly, if a difficult situation does arise, talk about it when you debrief after the meeting by sharing your perceptions. See it as a learning curve, an opportunity to reflect and build your skills. If a group member is very upset or expresses suicidal thoughts, it's important to know where to go for additional support and who to refer group members to if you feel they need further support.
Managing suicide risk
As part of the experience of losing a loved one to suicide, it is not uncommon for people who are suicide bereaved to experience their own thoughts of suicide.
People who are suicide bereaved are also more vulnerable to stress, and may be dealing with complicated grief and its attendant issues, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, sleep problems and guilt. These can all contribute to a person being more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
If a group member discloses their own suicidal feelings, know who you can refer them to for further support. Visit Suicide: coping with suicidal thoughts for more information and resources about how to support someone having suicidal thoughts.
Seeking counselling support
To get effective counselling support for suicide loss, it is best to find a counsellor or psychologist who has specific skills or a specific interest in this area. Questions you can ask include:
For more information, see page 58–59 in the handbook.