Reducing suicide risk after psychiatric hospitalization

Suicide risk assessment prior to discharge is one in a ‘bundle’ of preventive measures

Tony Salvatore, MA is the suicide prevention specialist for Montgomery County Emergency Service, Nor­ristown, Penn.

E-mail Tony at tsalvatore@mces.org.

Reference: http://www.behaviouralnet; July-August, 2012

reducing risk after hospitalisation

One of the ironies of suicide prevention is that inpatient psychiatric care,  the principal means of as­suring safety and stabilization to acutely suicidal individuals, leaves them at high risk of suicide after discharge. One source put it this way: “The risk of suicide is higher during the period immediately following discharge… than at any other time in a service user’s life.” (1) Post-discharge risk even accrues to patients not suicidal at admission.2

There is little data on suicides after a psychiatric hospital discharge in the US, though suicides chat occur within 72 hours after psychiatric hospitalization are tracked by The Joint Commission. Such deaths rose from fewer than 60 in 2005 to just over 100 in 2008.(3) These “sentinel events” trended downward through 2010, which was good news given that total US suicide numbers rose for the same period. However, suicide victims who were inpatients within days of their deaths should have better prospects for survival.

This well-documented risk does not seem to have attracted much attention from providers or public policy makers and administrators.(4) A greater concern is that patients and families may not be aware of the possible danger that may follow some consumers home. The problem of suicide risk after an inpatient  psychiatric  stay and what can be done about it warrant examination.

What is the source of post-discharge suicide risk?

Reasons for suicides after hospitalization include re-exposure to community stressors­, non-adherence, non-engagement with outpatient providers, relapse, and the return of insight regarding the consequences of the mental illness.(5) At discharge the protective factors the hospital offers-around-the-clock structure, supervision, caring, and support are abruptly lost.

Myopic discharge planning can add to risk.   Decisions based  on “stabilization” may overlook risk factors that led to the admission as may discharge planning that focuses more on psychiatric diagnosis than suicidality.

Suicide risk  assessment may not be as thorough prior to discharge as it is at the time of admission. This is problematic as many suicide risk factors specific to serious mental illness are not affected by inpatient treatment. High risk is associated with early stage of illness, good pre-illness functioning, and frequent exacerbations and remissions.(6) Many consumers have a history of suicidal behavior, self-injury, suicide loss, and multiple prior admissions.(7)

Why do post-discharge suicides happen?

There is no evidence that inpatient care prevents suicide after discharge, nor any that it causes suicide. Discharge planning and pre-discharge risk assessment deficits are not causes, either. So what accounts for lethal suicidal behavior in some consumers at a time when they should be on a path to recovery?

The   “Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide”(8) gives insight  into post-discharge suicide. This theory developed by Thomas Joiner, Ph.D., posits that a potentially fatal suicide attempt requires: 1. a sense of burdensomeness, 2. a sense of loneliness and isolation, 3. a sense of fearlessness about lethal self-harm. All three of these conditions rarely occur simultaneously, which is why there are comparatively few suicides. However, they, especially the first two, may be common in those with serious mental illness and especially in those who have received inpa­tient psychiatric care.

Joiner asserts that an intense desire for death may come from the belief that one is a burden to others and/or the belief that one does not belong. Burdensomeness­ arises from sense that one is a liability and not fulfilling expectations or obligations. This may lead to thinking that one’s death may be more valued than one’s life.. Failed belongingness may flow from a strong unmet need for social relationships and a perception that one is not cared for by others. These variables may be exacerbated by hospitalization and may persist in the community.

More than a desire to end one’s life is necessary for a suicide, Joiner  adds. An individual must also be able to take his or her life. This requires overcoming fear, pain, self-injury, and the instinct for self-preservation. This ability is acquired through experiences such as abuse, trauma, and a history of violence and self-harm. It is a by product of past attempts and may also be developed by mentally practicing a suicide plan and rehearsing it by holding means such as a weapon or pills.

The desire to die may lift during hos­pitalisation, but  the capability for lethal self-harm is permanent. Past attempts, abuse, trauma, and violence create a risk baseline that may escalate after discharge. Risk may be amplified be weak supports, rejection by others, and being faced with seemingly unresolvable psycho-social or environmental stressors, as well as folding relapse, resuming alcohol and drug use, and limited engagement by outpatient providers.

What can be done about post­-discharge suicide risk?

Many sound recommendations for addressing suicide risk after hospitalisation have been offered . Immediate treatment, follow-up, and closer monitoring of at-risk consumers returning to the community are most often urged.(9)

A recent review of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy included this recommendation: “Expand efforts to provide effective follow-up care after inpatient discharge of suicidal persons.”(10) Another national report was more specific: “Adopt nationally recognized policies and procedures that best match patients at risk for suicide to follow-up services that begin at or near the time of discharge from … an inpatient psychiatry unit.”(11)

A national suicide prevention organisation issued a broader advisory:(12)

  • Assess suicide risk at admission and again, thoroughly, just prior to discharge
  • Identify sources of support and their willingness and ability to provide
  • Give patient and family instruction about sui­cide risk at discharge and period
  • Explain how patient, family, or supports can access crisis intervention and other help.

Bumgarner and Haygood call  for  the use of a “risk reduction pathway” involving a “bundle” of suicide prevention practices provided to every patient,which at discharge would include:(13)

 

  • Suicide risk assessment to inform the discharge decision
  • Communication of risk/prevention measures to patients and family members
  • Follow-up with patients after discharge
  • Supports and services in place after discharge

Other resources that come to mind are:

  • Preparation of personal suicide prevention of safety plans at discharge.
  • The availability of peer-run warm lines for use by newly discharged consumers.
  • Access to therapies that have demonstrated suicide prevention potential (e.g., Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).
  • Peer-led or co-led support groups for those who have made suicide attempts or had an acute episode of suicidality.
  • Training peer specialists as ” gatekeepers”to identify possible warning signs of suicide in other consumers

Inpatient providers must do more to reduce the risk of ‘(outpatient” suicide. Montgomery County Emergency Service, a 73-bed nonprofit psychiatric hospital (Norristown,  Penn.),  has   inaugurated a number of easy-to-replicate practices in recent years. These include a range of suicide prevention education materials for consumers and families, a peer-led inpatient suicide prevention support group, “special discharge instructions” on  suicide  risk, and tighter pre-discharge risk assessment. 

Community-based providers must also help make post-discharge suicide what the National  Action Alliance  for Suicide Prevention recently called a “never event.”(14) In this regard , the Alliance  has called for suicide risk screening to be universal in all behavioral health care settings and that suicide risk be seamlessly addressed along the care continuum until eliminated. This would extend a “risk reduction pathway” from inpatient admission to recovery.

In addition to reducing consumer mortality, a post-discharge suicide prevention effort may reduce readmissions and involuntary hospitalizations, both of which are driven heavily by suicidal  behavior. Of course, it can also improve recovery prospects for inpatients while helping them maintain the hopeful outlook needed to motivate  and maintain  greater  personal wellness.

References

  1. Crawford, M. “Suicide following discharge from in-patient psychiatric care” Advances in Psychiatric Treatment 2004(10) 434-438.
  2. Dennehy,J ., Appleby, L ., and Thomas, “Case control study of suicide by discharged psychiatric patients” British Medical Journal 1996 (312).
  3. The Joint Commission, Sentinel Event Data, Event Type by Year, 1995 -Third Quarter 2011. Retrieved on November 30, 2011 from http://www. jointcommission.org/assets/1/18/ Event_ Type_Year_ I995_3Q201I.pdf
  4. Litts, D., et al. (Eds.) Suicide Prevention Efforts tor Individuals with Serious Mental Illness: Roles for the State Mental Health Authority. Alexandria, Vi-..: National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, 2008.
  5. Meehan, J., et al. “Suicide in mental health inpa­tients and within 3 months of discharge” British Journal of Psychiatry 2006 (188) 129-13 4.
  6. Bongar, (Ed.), Suicide; Suicidal behaviour: Personality Assessment; Risk factors; Diagnosis; Prevent ion New· York, Oxford University Press, 1992.
  7. Combs, S., and Romm, H. “Psychiatric inpatient suicide : A literature review” Primary Psychiatry 2007(14) 67-74
  8. Joiner, Why People Die by Suicide Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.
  9. Priola, S., Sohlman, B., and Wahlbeck, K. “The characteristics of suicides, within a week of discharge alter psychiatric hospitalization – a nationwide register study” BMC Psychiatry 2005(5).
  10. Litts, D., (Ed.), “Charting the Future of Suicide Prevention: A 2010 Progress Review of the National Strategy and Recommendations for the Decade Ahead.” Newton, MA: Education Development Center, Inc., 2010.
  11. Knesper, D., Continuity of Care for Suicide Prevention and Research: Suicide Attempts and Suicide Deaths Subsequent to Discharge from the Emergency Department or Psychiatry Inpatient Unit . Newton, MA: Education Development Center, Inc. 2010.
  12.  American Association for Suicidology, Recommendations for Inpatient and Residential Patients Known to be at Elevated Risk for Suicide. Washington, DC, 2005.
  13. Bumgarner, S., and Haywood , “Suicide prevention outside the psychiatry department: A bundled approach” Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare 2009 (September-October).
  14. National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Care in Systems Framework. Newton, MA, 2011.

 

For help in Australia

CAPS – Talk Suicide Support Service – Free telephone and face to face support      1800 008 255

Salvation Army Care Line     1300 36 36 22

Reach Out     http://au.reachout.com/tough-times

Headspace     Register and chat now at eheadspace, or call 1800 650 890  Headspace

Lifeline    13 11 14

Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78 (24 hour phone counselling and referral)

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Mates in Construction: 1300 642 111

QLife        1800 184 527    Phone & Chat  3.00 pm – 12.00 pm everyday

SANE Australia help

SANE Australia Helpline  –  Talk to a mental health professional (weekdays, 10 am-10 pm AEST) 1800 18 72 63

Helpline chat – Chat online with a mental health professional (weekdays 10 am-10 pm AEST)

Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800 (24 hour phone counselling)

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 (Professional call back service referral line operates seven days a week)

Veterans Line 1800 011 046 (after hours professional telephone crisis counselling for veterans and their families

 

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2019 Australian National Suicide Prevention Conference

Pullman Melbourne Albert Park Hotel

22nd – 25th July 2019

Presentation Idea (Abstract) Submissions Closing in 4 Weeks

Melbourne's skyline at dusk.

Suicide Prevention Australia Conference

Message from the Conference Organising Committee

We are delighted to confirm that the 2019 Conference will be held in Melbourne, Victoria. The 2019 Conference theme is all about collective action. Suicide Prevention Australia is keen to develop a program, grounded in lived experience, that embraces diversity in suicide prevention programs and services, encourages innovation and enhances their evidence-base.

SPA is putting together a robust, engaging program of national and international keynote speakers, and looks forward to complementing that with a suite of presentations from people and organisations all over Australia.

Join our Conference email list so you don’t miss out on Conference news as it arises.

Thank you again to everyone who contributed to making the 2018 Conference a success. We appreciate the candour and care in which sponsors, speakers, presenters, exhibitors, delegates and counsellors exchanged ideas and lessons learned. I am sure I was not alone in having returned to my workplace and community with a renewed sense of energy, direction and inspiration.

We look forward to welcoming you and your colleagues to the premier, multidisciplinary, educational event in the suicide prevention sector in 2019, the National Suicide Prevention Conference.

Nieves Murray
CEO, Suicide Prevention Australia

 

The Program Advisory Committee would like to remind you that you can submit presentation ideas for the 2019 National Suicide Prevention Conference any time before 5.00 pm (AEDT), Friday 15 February 2019.

The annual Conference attracts more than 600 delegates from Australia and abroad. It’s an important opportunity for the suicide prevention sector to come together, share key learnings, network and help to move the sector forward; to achieve its goal of reducing the rate of suicide in Australia.

The 2019 Conference theme is all about collective action. Suicide Prevention Australia is keen to develop a program, grounded in lived experience, that embraces diversity in suicide prevention programs and services, encourages innovation and enhances their evidence-base.

SPA is putting together a robust, engaging program of national and international keynote speakers, and looks forward to complimenting that with a suite of presentations from people and organisations all over Australia.

Please submit your presentation idea(s) by clicking here. Before you prepare your presentation idea, please read the presentation submission guidelines.

Submissions are due by 5 pm, Friday 15 February 2019.

If you have any queries at all, please get in touch with the Conference Secretariat, Encanta Event Management.

Encanta Event Management
Suite 348, St Kilda Road Towers
1 Queens Road, Melbourne, Victoria 3004
T: (03) 9863 7608
E: encanta@encanta.com.au

Suicide Prevention – What Will Make a Difference?

Dec 5 2018

Alan Woodward is one of Australia’s leading experts in suicide prevention

outside the box

Suicide is a problem in this country. Despite Australia being possibly the richest people in the world according to recent data on median wealth levels, despite having a peaceful existence far away from the world’s conflicts and despite the opportunities and quality of life prospects we enjoy, for more than a decade we have seen suicide rates that remain around the same – each year more than 3,000 people die and an estimated 80,000 suicide attempts occur. An estimated 400,000 Australians each year are impacted by suicide deaths to a point where their own well-being is affected.

More can and must be done to prevent loss of life and human tragedy. There are several areas in which priority attention is warranted for suicide prevention:

Crisis Response and Aftercare

This refers to the clinical and personal responses made through our hospitals, mental health services and other community supports for the person who has become suicidal – who may become visible because they have enacted on those feelings through a suicide attempt or an experience of personal crisis. These crisis responses need to be quick, proficient and accessible; they need to be effective in preventing the loss of life.

Yet, a one-off crisis response action is not enough. We need to address the volatile and fluctuating nature of suicidality. We should realise that one suicidal crisis is likely to be followed by another unless the underlying reasons that a person has for wanting to die are addressed in personal and practical ways. We need to create pathways for change and recovery. This can be enabled through follow up supports and the offer of coordinated services, both clinical and non-clinical in nature.

There is no higher priority for suicide prevention than reform to the overall service responses for suicidal persons who present looking for help. For it is these people who are most vulnerable to dying by suicide. Three key reforms would be:

–        a requirement to provide a comprehensive psycho-social assessment for every suicidal person to inform the mix of services to meet their needs;

–        the removal of suicide risk profile stratifications that are unreliable and only serve to restrict some ‘low risk’ person’s access to service;

–        and the creation of specialist programs including short stay residential care that directly address a person’s suicidality.

These changes would represent greater quality care for suicide in our service system. They would shift the response from ‘prevention of death’ alone to ‘recovery and changed futures’.

Practical Help on Life Situations

Suicidal behaviour is often triggered by events or a person’s circumstances, reinforced by that individual’s sense of being unable to escape or deal with them. This sense of entrapment is often what becomes the tipping point. Research and theory development by Professor Rory O’Connor and others at University of Glasgow is helping us better understand this.

So, suicide prevention must have a practical orientation if it is to be relevant and effective. Services must be able to show a suicidal person how their immediate difficulties can be addressed. Linkages must be formed across a variety of services including housing, financial counselling, relationships, alcohol and drugs, domestic violence, employment and responses to trauma and abuse.

Social Dimensions to Suicidal Behaviours

Third, we must consider the question of how a person sees themselves and the world around them. There is a social dimension to suicide.

Men account for three out of four suicide deaths in Australia. It is time to examine what leads men to want to end their lives, to better understand the pressures and the challenges that men may face. In particular, the ManUp series and associated research including the Ten to Men longitudinal study have demonstrated that outdated concepts of masculinity are barriers to male emotional well-being.

Reaching men in meaningful ways and addressing the attitudes and beliefs associated with concepts of masculinity will make a difference in their behaviours. This will require social change.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention has rightly been recognised as a priority, with a national strategy and additional resources on program development and services. However, indigenous leaders have identified the importance of culture in their communities, which is directly and intrinsically related to recognition, respect and inclusion in Australian society. It is simply not possible for suicide prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to be effective without the realisation of rights to culture, self-determination and recognition. This requires social action.

Broadly, social inclusion looms as one of the big challenges for Australian society and for suicide prevention. During a period of considerable social change, there is the risk that those who are vulnerable or different get left out. So many people are now experiencing profound loneliness in our modern society. There is a chance we shall isolate or marginalise some people while we struggle with the pace of change and the complexity of challenges before us.

Taking the words of Hugh Mackay from his latest book on Australian society – we need big hearts and open minds to reduce the collective anxiety that is fueling overly simplistic solutions and appeals to fear while at the same time drawing on compassion and understanding for each other.

Social connection and compassion are essential ingredients for suicide prevention. They are the fuel for hope. They are protective factors that we need in place.

Our response to suicide must address human suffering. Amongst all other things, suicide prevention should be regarded as a humanitarian cause. This is recognised by Norwegian American writer Siri Hustvedt who concluded after listening to the stories of many individuals who had survived suicide attempts: “Despair and pain is a feature of suicidal experiences. Every suicidal person has a story of suffering.”

So, suicide prevention requires multiple actions, some that are individually focused, others that require us all to contribute to a society that is more supportive to people going through tough times, more open and accepting of difference amongst people and more protective in the prevention of suicide.

For help in Australia

CAPS – Talk Suicide Support Service – Free telephone and face to face support      1800 008 255

Salvation Army Care Line     1300 36 36 22

Reach Out     http://au.reachout.com/tough-times

Headspace     Register and chat now at eheadspace, or call 1800 650 890  Headspace

Lifeline    13 11 14

Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78 (24 hour phone counselling and referral)

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Mates in Construction: 1300 642 111

QLife        1800 184 527    Phone & Chat  3.00 pm – 12.00 pm everyday

SANE Australia help

SANE Australia Helpline  –  Talk to a mental health professional (weekdays, 10 am-10 pm AEST) 1800 18 72 63

Helpline chat – Chat online with a mental health professional (weekdays 10 am-10 pm AEST)

Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800 (24 hour phone counselling)

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 (Professional call back service referral line operates seven days a week)

Veterans Line 1800 011 046 (after hours professional telephone crisis counselling for veterans and their families

Become a trainer in CALM

CALM: The voice of Education in Suicide – Calm conversations can save lives

Train others how to intervene and support somebody who may be thinking about suicide.

Dates: 6th, 7th & 8th February 2018

Location: Brisbane, venue TBA

FEE after 6th of January: $2,500

calm-logo-1

Email: sandra@keepcalm.org.au; melanie@keepcalm.org.au
Phone: (07)3077 6536, (07)31172455; 0433 121 999
Website: http://www.keepcalm.org.au

Losing someone to suicide is a tragedy that can be prevented when one has the right skills and tools. This three day Train the Trainer (T4T) workshop will provide you with the skills, knowledge and resources to help your participants: recognise the subtle warning signs somebody may be at risk; open up a conversation in a comfortable and safe manner; help the person reconnect with their strengths and hold their hope and lastly to identify referral pathways and develop a meaningful safety plan. An evidence-informed program drawing on the latest research and methodologies, it is informed
by lived experience and has a strong focus on what language to use to achieve a positive outcome.
The T4T is effectively delivered over a 3 day period. This ensures that all participants understand the theories, principles and models that underpin CALM; fully grasp and be able to demonstrate their ability to explain and use the CALM model of intervention and lastly, to gain confidence in their ability to competently deliver the one day program to their audiences.

Day 1 – The program will be delivered in its entirety by CALM trainers to give you a view of the one day presentation.

Day 2 – Each component of the model will be explained in full detail covering the evidence that underpins and informs the CALM model.

Day 3 – Each participant will have the opportunity to practice and present a section of the program to ensure they have understood the intent and delivery method of the CALM model as well as enabling them to gain confidence in their presentation styles.

 

For help in Australia

CAPS – Talk Suicide Support Service – Free telephone and face to face support      1800 008 255

Salvation Army Care Line     1300 36 36 22

Reach Out     http://au.reachout.com/tough-times

Headspace     Register and chat now at eheadspace, or call 1800 650 890  Headspace

Lifeline    13 11 14

Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78 (24 hour phone counselling and referral)

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Mates in Construction: 1300 642 111

QLife        1800 184 527    Phone & Chat  3.00 pm – 12.00 pm everyday

SANE Australia help

SANE Australia Helpline  –  Talk to a mental health professional (weekdays, 10 am-10 pm AEST) 1800 18 72 63

Helpline chat – Chat online with a mental health professional (weekdays 10 am-10 pm AEST)

Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800 (24 hour phone counselling)

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 (Professional call back service referral line operates seven days a week)

Veterans Line 1800 011 046 (after hours professional telephone crisis counselling for veterans and their families

The 6th Australian Postvention Conference 13 – 15 June 2019 | Sydney Masonic Centre

Conference registration and abstract submissions open

postvention conference

Building Hope Together
The Journey After Suicide
The 6th Australian Postvention Conference
13 – 15 June 2019 – Sydney Masonic Centre

www.buildinghopetogether.com.au

Postvention Australia and the Conference Committee are pleased to announce that registration and call for abstracts for the 6th Australian Postvention Conference are now open.

Abstract submissions close Friday 8th February 2019.

More information can be found on the conference website:  www.buildinghopetogether.com.au

Register now

Submit your abstract

Conference Information

The 2019 Conference focuses on building hope together through the three main conference themes -encouraging resilience, incorporating lived experience and facilitating collaboration between stakeholders. The conference encourages the sharing and discussion of ideas, stories and research to bring positive outcomes for the postvention sector. This conference brings together those bereaved by suicide,trauma victims and survivors, Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders, defence force services, emergency services and individuals/organisations working the field of suicide bereavement, trauma and loss.

Conference Program

The three-day conference commences with half-day and full-day pre-conference workshops on Thursday 13 June 2019

These workshops are followed by two days of plenaries, workshops and presentations from International and Australian presenters. We are privileged to have international guests and invited Australian speakers who are well known in Australia and internationally for their research and expertise in trauma and bereavement.

International presenters include:

  • Dr Julie Cerel (President, American Association of Suicidology)
  • Ken Norton (NAMI NH, Connect Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention Program)
  • Sharon McDonnell (Suicide Bereavement UK)

Australian presenters include:

  • Pat Dudgeon (Deputy Chair, Australian Indigenous Psychologist’s Association, Chair, National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Leaders Mental Health, Co-Chair, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, Director, National Empowerment Project, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project and the UWA Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP))
  • Myfanwy Maple (Professor of Social Work, and Chair of Research, School of Health, University of New England)
  • Adele Cox (Project Director, National Indigenous Critical Response Project, Chief Executive, Thirrili Ltd)

 

The conference concludes with a special Healing and Remembrance Service. The Healing and Remembrance service provides an opportunity for individuals, families and friends to come together to share and be supported in their grief as we honour and remember their loved one.

My Story – A Lived Experience

A bereaved person will share their story at the beginning of each plenary to link their lived experience with the theoretical aspect of the conference. While it is often challenging to find the words to give expression to the experience of loss to suicide, we know that telling one’s story, sometimes through the use of creative art forms, can be healing and strengthening. It can also be an effective way to break down the silence and stigma often associated with suicide. The Mindframe guidelines will be used to steer these speeches. For more information, please visit Lived Experience Speaker.

This conference is primarily for the bereaved by suicide and for those working with/supporting the bereaved. This conference will bring together family and friends who have been bereaved by suicide, the Indigenous, teachers, youth workers, social workers, mental health professionals, general practitioners and medical personnel, clergy, emergency services personnel, researches, service providers and funeral service personnel.

There will be limited bursaries available for the bereaved by suicide and/or support group facilitators who would otherwise be unable to attend.

Conference Objectives

  1. To provide a voice for those bereaved by suicide through creative expression and integrating the stories of those bereaved by suicide across Australia
  2. To reach out and support with Hope and Healing, military and emergency services personnel suffering intense emotional trauma, shock, grief and physical and mental ill health
  3. To provide support, information and opportunities for networking and collaboration between bereavement researchers, educators, policy writers, service providers, funeral directors, Indigenous communities, emergency services, military personnel, and those bereaved by suicide
  4. To contribute to an evidence base through the exchange of research and practice knowledge
  5. To raise the prominence of suicide bereavement issues nationally

To highlight the range of Australian bereavement services and promote an integrated and cohesive approach to the needs of bereaved people, Indigenous communities, military and emergency service personnel at a local, state, national and international level.

About Postvention Australia

Postvention Australia is a not-for-profit organisation designed to prevent suicide through supporting and helping people who are ‘left behind’ after a suicide takes place. It originated from accumulating evidence that this is a neglected area of suicide prevention: people bereaved through suicide are up to eight times more likely to take their life than the general population. Postvention Australia – the National Association for the Bereaved by Suicide – is a national voice for those bereaved by suicide and it is our task to seek consultation with those bereaved listen with understanding and compassion. The Postvention Australia website has a listing of suicide bereavement support groups, as well as other resources.

The problem of suicide bereavement

Over 3,000 people take their lives each year in Australia, which equates to 8 persons lost to suicide each day. For each suicide death, new research shows at least 135 people are directly affected when a person suicides. Extrapolating from this information, this equates to over 1000 people affected by suicide each day in Australia. Given the longevity of suicide grief, too many are in need of help. The social, emotional and economic consequences of suicide are immense. To lose someone to suicide commonly results in intense emotional trauma, shock, grief, guilt, physical and psychological ill health and adverse social circumstances. The bereaved by suicide are up to eight times the risk of suicide than the general population.

Suicide touches everyone, all ages and incomes, all racial, ethnic and religious groups in all parts throughout Australia. In remote and very remote areas, the rate of suicide was 1.7 times that of major cities in 2015. The ripple effect created by suicide can affect family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues as well as clubs, schools and churches.

Information and support have been demonstrated as important in helping the bereaved survive through the pain of grief. Recent research has demonstrated that getting help and information is still a haphazard process without a clear pathway to help. Effective postvention is prevention.

Conference Information

I ask if you would please circulate conference information to the bereaved by suicide and service providers in your region.

We value the contribution of postvention service providers and we are developing close relationships/partnerships with service providers throughout Australia.
For further information I can be contacted on my mobile, 0412 164 575 or by email, alanstaines@optusnet.com.au

For and on behalf of:


Chair, Prof. Diego De Leo AO, Deputy Chair, Prof. Ian Webster AO, National Secretary, Alan Staines OAM (Envoy) and the Board of the Postvention Australia Conference Committee