Winston’s Wish, the leading childhood bereavement charity in the UK, acknowledges the important work being done by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), particularly World Suicide Prevention Day, taking place this Thursday 10th September. The initiative has a global reach and aims to start conversations about suicide prevention and support.

Winston’s Wish supports children and their families following the death of a parent or sibling, and this includes specialist work with children and young people bereaved through suicide.

Approximately a third of the families that Winston’s Wish supports across the UK have been bereaved through suicide.

Brett Riches, Senior Practitioner at Winston’s Wish, works directly with families bereaved in such a way, and recognises the importance of World Suicide Prevention Day to start conversations and encourage support.

He commented:

“The death of someone important can cause great pain and sadness whatever the cause of death. However, families bereaved through suicide also have to face additional pressures and pain.  You can often face agonising questions and intrusive public scrutiny at a time when you are feeling confused and vulnerable.

If you have been bereaved though suicide, you will probably go through the shock, deep sadness and occasional anger felt by people bereaved in other ways. At the same time, you may also have to cope with extra emotions such as guilt, shame and self-blame.  You may find yourself plagued by thoughts of ‘what if’ and ‘if only’.  On top of everything else, parents can fear for the future mental health of their children. One person described it as ‘grief with the volume turned up’”.

Winston’s Wish exists to support children experiencing this trauma. Over 6,000 people take their own lives each year in the UK and people aged between 40 and 49 (prime parental age) are most at risk (ONS, 2012).

Brett added:

“A death through suicide can leave families asking many unanswerable questions.  Families can feel isolated within their own community as a result of the stigma attached to this type of death; individuals within families can be left isolated as the pain is felt too great to bear and permission to talk and share thoughts and feelings is not given. At Winston’s Wish, we work to build the confidence and resilience of young people to lead positive futures”.

The IASP website offers some ways in which communities can become involved on Thursday:

“On September 10th, join with others around the world who are working towards the common goal of preventing suicide. Check in on someone you may be concerned about, listen to what they say, how they say it and show them kindness and support. Investigate ways of linking in with others who are trying to prevent suicide in your community, your country, or internationally”.

Winston’s Wish helps children and young people rebuild their lives after the death of their mum, dad, brother or sister, enabling them to face the future with confidence and hope. Each year, Winston’s Wish supports over 40,000 bereaved children and young people through an array of dedicated services.