Childhood bereavement by suicide is complex, with suicide-bereaved children experiencing a range of emotions including anger, shame, withdrawal, guilt and may display symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
Australian charity organisation, Feel the Magic, identified a gap in suicide bereavement services available to support young people impacted by suicide death in Australia. In response, Feel the Magic developed a new young person focused bereavement program titled, Let’s Talk Suicide.
Created specifically for young people who are grieving the suicide of a loved one, the Let’s Talk Suicide program aims to support children through suicide bereavement and provide practical skills on how to manage the range of emotions experienced following a suicide death. The program is offered virtually to accommodate the needs of young people nationally.
The Let’s Talk Suicide virtual camps are offered to young people aged 7 to 17 who are grieving the suicide of a parent or sibling. The free virtual camps provide the mental tools and coping skills for managing their grief, and a community to lean on after a suicide in their family. They provide a safe place to explore grief and heal with other young people, encouraging a peer support model. The virtual camps also create a space for parents or carers bereaved by suicide to connect with other parents or carers.
Let’s Talk Suicide has been created in collaboration with clinical psychologists and those with lived experience of suicidal grief. Partners of the program include the NSW Ministry of Health, Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative, Roses in the Ocean and The University of Melbourne.
With positive results arising from the Let’s Talk Suicide virtual camps, Feel The Magic recently held the first Let’s Talk Suicide in-person camp at Stanwell Tops in May 2022. The NSW Minister for Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor and the NSW Ministry of Health have openly supported the program.
Outcomes of Let’s Talk Suicide
The University of Melbourne has been active in supporting evaluation of the Let’s Talk Suicide program. Evaluation has examined the experiences of parents, young people and counsellors involved in the program.
The evaluation report from The University of Melbourne indicated young people and their parents who participated in the Let’s Talk Suicide face to face camp observed that sharing physical space with other young people allowed them to create friendship and connections that support management of grief and bereavement following a suicide death1.
The report suggests the continued need for online format camps for young people and families facing geographic distance or economic factors that prevent face to face participation. The report also made recommendations regarding the structure, materials and facilitation of the Let’s Talk Suicide program.
Feel the Magic looks forward to continuing to support young people through the Let’s Talk Suicide program across Australia.
Andriessen, K., Krysinska, K., Currier, D. (2021) Evaluation of the “Let’s Talk Suicide” postvention program [Internal Report]. The University of Melbourne, Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health.