Comment on "Effects of suicide bereavement on mental health and suicide risk" in Lancet Psychiatry

The first issue of The Lancet Psychiatry focuses on suicide research and prevention.

Commenting on "Effects of suicide bereavement on mental health and suicide risk" by Dr Alexandra Pitman, University College London et al, Catherine Johnstone, Samaritans’ Chief Executive, said:

“The loss of a loved one brings about intense grief, but when the death is by suicide the emotions experienced in the aftermath can differ considerably from those following other types of death. The shock can be especially acute and complex.

“This review highlights the risks associated with being bereaved by suicide. Of particular interest were the findings related to the differing risk dependent on the relationship with the individual.

“The authors suggest that the current reliance on the charity sector to provide support to those bereaved by suicide is unsustainable and inappropriate. They also note there is a need for statutory services to play a greater role since the adverse outcomes often result in psychiatric care. While we wholeheartedly agree that clinical input is vital in designing services, we believe the provision offered by the charity sector is a vital complement  to state services. Voluntary sector services are different in tone and nature than those provided by statutory agencies and for many people are the first place they go to seek help.

“Samaritans are working with Cruse Bereavement Care, to develop a programme which places the individual bereaved by suicide at the centre of a new jointly run service. Throughout this process we are working closely with clinical experts from a range of fields including psychology and psychiatry, to make sure that those struggling to cope receive a high level of support.”   

More information

Effects of suicide bereavement on mental health and suicide risk, in Lancet Psychiatry