Supporting people and things to consider after a death by suicide
O le malu i fale’ulu. The protection given by a house built of breadfruit wood.
After a death by suicide, it’s better to share the facts and not keep secrets. However, talking about suicide safely means talking about it in a way that ensures no one else sees it as an option for them, with people encouraged to get the help they need.
Knowing where to get help is part of creating a safe environment, as is supporting people affected after a death by suicide. Understanding who is at risk and what warning signs to look out for are also critical to suicide prevention.
After someone dies, people need to come together and mourn their loss and celebrate a life. When events, activities, funerals, speeches, sermons and memorial services are being organised after a death by suicide, it’s worth going through the following checklist.
- Does this glamorise or glorify suicide?
- Does this normalise suicide as something that is naturally done in response to distress?
- Could other people, especially vulnerable people, see the suicide as rewarding in some way, after attending this event?
- Could the type of information shared and the detail of it, easily enable copycat behaviour?
- Could other people, especially vulnerable people, see suicide as an opportunity for recognition and/or retribution after attending this event?
- Could people who have thoughts of suicide feel more stigmatised after this event? High stigma means that many people thinking of taking their own life may be too ashamed to seek help.
- Is there a way to build suicide prevention into the event?
- Is there a way to ensure people know how to get support and help after attending the event?
- Are there clear messages that it is no one’s fault and nobody is to blame?
- Does it promote healthy grieving without stigmatising the dead person or their family?
Download our factsheet about grieving (PDF, 360KB) which includes information about what grief is, what it looks like, practical advice for coping with grief and where to get help when grief doesn’t go away.
Clinical Advisory Services Aotearoa (CASA) can provide more information about keeping safe at memorials and services. CASA also delivers a Community Postvention Response Service (CPRS).
What is CPRS?
The Community Postvention Response Service (CPRS) delivered by CASA is a Ministry of Health funded service that supports communities to response following suicides – when a cluster of suicides or attempts occur, or there’s concern about contagion (i.e. where a suicide or attempt could influence others to do the same thing). The CPRS factsheet provides more detail about the help this service can provide and how it’s activated.
To contact CPRS phone 0800 448 908 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A note for media
Occasionally, for people who are in crisis, just hearing about a death by suicide and knowing details about the method can lead to them considering it as an option for them too. For this reason, it’s recommended that information about suicide and especially the method of suicide is withheld in the media. It’s safer to not share details of the method to avoid copycat behaviour. Check out these Pasifika media guidlines for reporting suicide in New Zealand.