The resource, ‘Postvention Australia Guidelines: A resource for organisations and individuals providing services to people bereaved by suicide’ provides a framework for mitigating the negative impacts of exposure to suicide. The Postvention Australia Guidelines provide support to organisations who may provide postvention services, but also groups or individuals in contact with the bereaved such as front-line workers, health care professionals, social workers, funeral directors, and volunteers.
The Guidelines provide this support by describing:
- the roles of managers, ensuring accessible and understood protocols are available for front-line staff;
- the importance of all staff understanding the ethical issues involved and having up-to-date knowledge of available and accessible services.
Furthermore, the guidelines provide tools to build the capacity of organisations, individuals, families and communities to respond to suicide for specific population groups and settings.
Postvention service provision should include the following(9)
Responding to the needs of suicide bereaved:
- Understand the diverse needs of people impacted by suicide and their changing needs over time (including emotional and practical needs)
- Consider a ‘No wrong door’ approach in facilitating referrals to other more appropriate services, ensuring that the bereaved are supported in finding the right services
- Offer a flexible approach that considers both passive and proactive services
- Explore tailoring services by age, culture and kinship
- Engage lived experience, including people bereaved by suicide in service development
Provision of culturally sensitive and appropriate services:
- Work respectfully and inclusively paying attention to cultural diversity
- Encourage appropriate use of language to avoid stigmatising service users
Provision of appropriate and accurate information and resources:
- Ensure that the suicide bereaved receive appropriate and essential information in a timely manner
- Have information available and accessible in different formats (such as hard copies, Internet, mobile phone apps) and ensure they reach the target audience
The Postvention Guidelines succeed in incorporating the work of a number of organisations in the postvention sector in Australia and internationally. However, given the document is a general guide for postvention services for people bereaved by suicide, it is important to remember that every community is unique and like any intervention, postvention strategies need to consider the characteristics and context of the specific community in question.
This page was developed in collaboration with Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention.
1) Maple, M, Sanford, R. (2019). Suicide exposure and impact within a non-representative Australian community sample, Death Studies, Jan,2019
2) Cerel J, Brown MM, Maple M, Singleton M, van de Venne J, Moore M, Flaherty C, 2018. How many people are exposed to suicide? Not six. Suicide & Life-threatening Behavior
3) Cerel J, McIntosh JL, Neimeyer RA, Maple M, Marshall D, 2014. The continuum of "survivorship": definitional issues in the aftermath of suicide. Suicide & Life-threatening Behavior. 44, 591-600.
4) Andriessen K, Krysinska K. (2012). Essential questions on suicide bereavement and postvention. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 9, 24-32.
5) Kõlves K, De Leo D. (2014). Is suicide grief different? Empirical evidence. In: De Leo D, Cimitan A, Dyregrov K, Grad O, Andriessen K. (Eds), Bereavement after traumatic death: Helping the survivors. Hogrefe, Göttingen, pp. 161-173.
6) Pitman A, Osborn D, King M, Erlangsen A. (2014). Effects of suicide bereavement on mental health and suicide risk. Lancet Psychiatry, 1, 86-94.
7) Jordan JR, McIntosh JL. (2011). Is suicide bereavement different? A framework for rethinking the question. In: Jordan JR, McIntosh JL. (Eds), Grief after suicide: Understanding the consequences and caring for the survivors. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, New York, London, pp. 19-41.
8) Neimeyer RA, Sands DC. (2015). Containing violent death. In R. A. Neimeyer (Ed), Techniques of grief therapy: Assessment and interventions. Routledge, New York, pp. 306-311. Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force (2015). Responding to grief, trauma and distress after suicide: U.S. National Guideline
9) Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention & Postvention Australia (2017) Postvention Australia Guidelines: A resource for organisations and individuals providing services to people bereaved by suicide. Brisbane: Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention. https://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0038/359696/Postvention_WEB.pdf