There is growing evidence that those exposed to suicide are at an increased risk of subsequent suicide themselves, and that the concept of postvention is ultimately the act of prevention. Postvention can be defined as "the coordination of events during the aftermath of a suicide, with a dual focus on bereavement support and suicide prevention amongst the bereaved and within the wider impacted community."
Under this definition it should be noted that those supported through postvention are not just bereaved family or friends, with support extending to all those whose life is changed because of the loss. This can include, but is not limited to, witnesses, first responders, health care providers, sporting clubs, community groups, employers and work colleagues.
Those bereaved by suicide are themselves at higher risk of a range of ongoing detrimental impacts including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, alcohol or substance abuse, disruption of family relations and routines, functional impairments in daily activities, and difficulties with relationships. They are also at risk of suicidal ideation and associated at-risk behaviours.
Click the image below to view findings from the Exposure and Impact of Suicide in Australia survey (source: Suicide Prevention Australia)
Practically, postvention support for individuals or impacted groups can be divided into four types:
- Information including leaflets, books, booklets, factsheets, posters and online information (this service level is sufficient for most who experience a normal level of distress following a bereavement)
- Assistance including support services, support groups, self-help groups, helplines, community support, educational support (moderate grief reactions)
- Counselling (severe grief reactions)
- Psychotherapy (mental health and complicated grief reactions).
- Postvention Australia Guidelines | For organisations and individuals providing services to people bereaved by suicide
- Resources for CALD communities in discussing suicide | For professionals discussing suicide with culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Includes information on postvention focused discussions
- Thirrili Trauma, Grief and Postvention | Defines and addresses Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trauma, grief and postvention
- Be You Suicide Postvention Tool Kit | Offers practical guidance on responding to a suicide and managing the impact on a school community
- Standby Support After Suicide | Includes resources to support children and teens after suicide and workplace toolkit
- Lifeline: Standards and guidelines for suicide bereavement support groups
- Conversations Matter when telling a child about a suicide
- What is postvention video
- Managers guide to suicide postvention video
Northern Mallee Suicide Postvention Protocol
The Northern Mallee Suicide Postvention Protocol (2021) is an initiative of the Mildura Place-based Suicide Prevention Trial and has been informed by practice-based and lived experience, peer-reviewed literature and consultation with suicide prevention experts.
Mitigating the community impact of suicide
Postvention helps to mitigate impacts for individuals and groups affected by suicide, but it also has benefits at a population level. Postvention at a population health level includes activity such as development of support and resources for suicide bereaved (e.g. support groups, online resources, suicide survivor days), awareness raising activities, activities that reduce stigma and encourage help seeking, implementation of professional standards and media guidelines for reporting of suicide. For more information, visit the following links:
- Mindframe national guidelines | For media professionals, and stage and screen
- Conversations Matter | Supports safe and effective community discussions about suicide
- #chatsafe: A young person's guide for communicating safely online about suicide
- Headspace | Remembering a young person: Memorials and important events
- Ambulance (000) If you need urgent help, please call triple zero.
- HeadtoHelp hubs offer clinical advice, referral and wraparound care for Victorians struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Call 1800 595 212.
- Talk it Out provides free professional phone counselling services 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people 15 years and older living or working in the Murray PHN region. Call 1300 022 946.
- Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis counselling, support groups and suicide prevention services. Call 13 11 14.
- Beyond Blue provides 24/7 support via phone as well as support online, via email or online forums. Call 1300 224 636.
- Suicide Call Back Service provides 24/7 support if you or someone you know is feeling suicidal. Call 1300 659 467.
- headtohealth is an online gateway funded by the Australian Government that can help you find free and low-cost, trusted phone and online mental health resources.
Murray PHN acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government