Victim Support | Suicide Bereavement Service
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Suicide Bereavement Service

Our trained Support Workers provide a range of important support services for people affected by suicide. Support Workers are supervised and supported in this work by our specially trained Suicide Bereavement Specialists. We have five specialists nationally who are here to make sure support workers can provide the best possible support.

Our Suicide Bereavement Service has four primary objectives:

  • Ease trauma
  • Prevent adverse grief reactions / complications
  • Minimise risk of suicidal behaviour in grieving
  • Encourage coping and resilience

Victim Support works closely with Clinical Advisory Services Aotearoa – as per our agreement with the Ministry of Health. We also work closely with, and have memorandums of understanding, with several District Health Boards.

What we can do following a suicide:

  • Police call our 0800 service and advise that suicide has occurred
  • Our Contact Service allocate a Support Worker in the nearest town or city
  • Our Support Worker meets police at address of family or volunteer goes to address of persons who have already been notified by police of the death (we do not do the notification on behalf of police)
  • The Support Worker meets with family, discoverer and wider network of friends and colleagues, and if the circle of affected people is wide our volunteer asks our 0800 service to dispatch more workers
  • Our Support Worker will assist the family with information and support
  • The Support Worker’s involvement with the affected persons is supervised by a Suicide Bereavement Specialist (SBS)
  • The SBS and Support Worker work closely to assess need and provide support
  • Risk screening undertaken – QPR (this stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer – three simple steps that anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide) is utilised when necessary
  • Length of engagement is client-driven as long as their needs are still within the parameters of what we can provide
  • Referral to existing community agencies and any local support groups is part of our core service delivery
  • A six month follow-up with the affected persons occurs, to assess level or risk of adverse grief reactions and risk of suicidal ideation
  • Affected persons can all our 0800 number at anytime in the future to re-engage with their Support Worker.

Note: People can self refer to Victim Support, and we also support those who reside in New Zealand but where the suicide of their family member occurred outside of this country.

Training of Support Workers

Our Support Workers receive training on suicide as part of their in-depth initial training programme.  This helps them understand how a suicide death differs from other forms of sudden death and the impact on victims.

Our Support Workers, who come from many and varied backgrounds, also receive on-going support and training including individual coaching and debriefing sessions.  This support is provided by our Suicide Bereavement Specialists.

What Victim Support does not do:

  • Provide financial assistance or budget advice
  • Provide counselling / therapy
  • Provide / facilitate grief support groups
  • Attend and support after an attempted suicide
  • Work directly with children aged 16 yrs or under
  • Notify family / friends of a death on behalf of police or others
  • Act as lead agency in postvention initiatives or prevention initiatives established by District Health Boards or other organisations (but we can participate as a stakeholder)
  • Pass on information relating to living victims we are supporting, to any agency or individual, without the consent of the victim (or our funder the Ministry of Health, the exception to this being when high risk of a cluster or contagion is evidenced, and where we have an Memorandum of Understanding in place with an agency).

Our Suicide Bereavement Specialist Team:

April Marshall – National Manager – Bereavement Services
Kim Jones – Northland, Waitemata, Auckland
Tala Leiasamaivao – Counties Manukau, Auckland East, Waikato
Kiri Pardoe – Hawke’s Bay, East Coast, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Wanganui
Russell Baines – Manawatu, Wairarapa, Wellington, Hutt Valley, Nelson, Marlborough and Sth Island West Coast
Susie Milne – Canterbury, Southland, Otago and Central Otago

For more information please contact us on 0800 842 846.