What is Postvention?
Postvention involves activities related to the help and support of people exposed to suicide. This may include community members, acquaintances, colleagues and family members. Research suggests approximately 135 people are exposed to each suicide death(1-3).
In the community, there are a large number of people who are exposed to a suicide death. Many who are exposed to suicide go on to be affected by the death. A smaller number may be bereaved, mourning the loss of the relationship.
It is an essential component of support and is fundamentally based on a relationship between people and their community.
It is imperative that postvention takes account of the broad continuum of people who have a relationship or identify with someone who dies by suicide(1). This is particularly important for ‘high-risk’ and marginalised communities.
“Postvention is therefore a significant form of suicide prevention”.
Different grief reactions are experienced throughout every course of bereavement. Although bereavement experiences are individual, they share similar features and reactions. People bereaved by suicide, akin to people bereaved by other types of death, experience general grief reactions such as shock, denial, sadness, confusion and anger.
Research has shown that in addition to these feelings, people bereaved by suicide may show higher levels of shame, responsibility, guilt, rejection, blame (self and/or others), personal and public stigma and trauma(1-7).
Assistance after a suicide death can have an influence on long-term outcomes of bereavement(2,4). This can be either clinical (professional services) or non-clinical (support and information from front-line workers such as police, staff from the coroner’s office, or a funeral director).
References available at Postvention Australia Guidelines