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Why those bereaved by suicide need extra support

27 February 2014

Why those bereaved by suicide need extra support

Following the tragic death of television personality Charlotte Dawson, suicide has been much in the media.

Globally, there are nearly one million deaths per year by suicide. Worldwide, it ranks among the three leading causes of death among adolescents and young adults, and is one of the top ten leading causes of death across all age groups. New Zealanders know it is a serious public health issue here.

After a suicide, bereavement grief can be especially difficult. Research indicates that those bereaved by suicide of a close friend or family member are at increased risk of developing complex grief reactions, including depression, PTSD, and suicidality. They require unique, targeted support options to be readily available to cope with their loss and grief.

Skylight, as a nationally respected trauma and grief support agency, recognises this imperative and so provides a range of support options.

Says Tricia Irving Hendry, Skylight’s Deputy Chief Executive, who was bereaved by suicide some years ago:

“One day I was a young mum with three children aged 11, 6 and 2. The next day I was a young widow dealing with the horror and tragedy of my husband’s suicide and looking to both support my children through bereavement and to find ways to help them face suicide’s stigma. It’s been a bumpy journey as suicide bereavement has a sting in its tail, even years on.”

Skylight’s homepage now directly links people to a wide range of suicide support options around NZ, including helpful information and support resources for all ages, and notes about explaining suicide to children and teens. See the Skylight website for the link, Support for those Bereaved by Suicide in NZ:

For those bereaved by suicide, including children and teens, Skylight can send a personalised pack of support information on request. Phone 0800 299 100 on weekdays.

Skylight also offers support groups for those who have been bereaved by suicide. WAVES is our evidence-based, well-evaluated programme for people bereaved by suicide at any time in their lives (17 years plus). There are currently some DHBs who are running WAVES groups in their regions. Phone 0800 299 100 to enquire.


• Further details about Skylight’s resources and support services can be found on our website at

• Specifically around suicide support

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