‘U.S. Guidelines’ Offer Communities Vital Help with Postvention Planning

Communities and organizations looking for assistance either with strategic planning related to suicide postvention or with addressing any issues related to the aftermath of suicide ought to include as vital background reading Responding to Grief, Trauma, and Distress After a Suicide: U.S. National Guidelines. (Postvention involves actions designed to mitigate the negative effects on others caused by a person dying from suicide.) The guidelines were written by a task force of a dozen experts (almost all of whom are themselves survivors of suicide loss) and released in 2015 by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. According to the document’s preface:

The research findings delineated in [these guidelines] … present the cumulative argument that the severity and duration of suicide’s damage for many of our friends and neighbors is far worse than is recognized, and that our society is not even close to responding adequately or effectively to lessen this damage or to help people recover from the tragedy that has befallen them … [This] must compel us to take the bold and drastic action necessary to reinvent postvention in a way that focuses our compassion — and our resources — on answering the call to meet the needs of everyone exposed to a suicide.

The guidelines delineate strategic goals and objectives to help “incorporate more effective care for the suicide bereaved and others affected by a suicide into all postvention policies and practices [and to] … pave the way for increased communications and collaboration between the field of suicide postvention and those working in fields such as grief counseling, trauma care, crisis response, funeral services, spiritual care, and mental health treatment, .

In addition, the guidelines:

  • Argue that suicide bereavement is unique because death by suicide is unique (namely, it involves questions about the deceased’s volition, the effects of trauma, the degree that suicide is preventable, and the role of stigma in people’s treatment of the deceased and of the bereaved)

Read more‘U.S. Guidelines’ Offer Communities Vital Help with Postvention Planning

Characteristics of Peer Support Are ‘Evidence- and Practice-Informed’

“Evidence- and Practice-Informed Characteristics of Peer Support Practices”—an article being written for publication in Death Studies, the professional journal of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC)—concludes that:

Peer support helps the suicide bereaved, [and] there are identifiable elements of peer support practices and programs that are informed by research …

The authors—Franklin Cook, Linda Langford, and Kim Ruocco—are still at work on the final draft of the article, but Suicide Grief Resources is sharing two excerpts that should be immediately useful to people engaged in Peer Grief Support after Suicide (PGSS), which is the term the article uses to describe the field of practice involving support between people bereaved by suicide. Specifically, the article defines PGSS as:

… social, emotional, instrumental, and other assistance … based on relational mutuality and interpersonal connectedness … [that is] formal, intentional support delivered by survivors of suicide loss to other survivors.

The excerpts available now for use by PGSS helpers are:

  • “Evidence- and Practice-Informed Characteristics of Peer Support Practices” [LINK], which identifies 30 features of practitioners’ approach to helping for which there are indicators of effectiveness
  • “Evidence- and Practice-Informed Characteristics of Peer Support Programming” [LINK], which identifies features of organization- and program-level implementation of  peer-to-peer services that have been shown to be beneficial to people receiving assistance


This is the first in a series of Suicide Grief Resources posts  in the Foundational Documents category, which will briefly describe and provide links to items essential to the understanding and development of PGSS as a field of practice in its own right.

Bookmark the SGR ‘Welcome Page’ for Key Start-Up Links

The Welcome Page of Suicide Grief Resources is a valuable page to add to your favorites or bookmarks while SGR is under development, for it provides links to all of the content on the current After a Suicide Resource Directory as well as to three foundational documents related to the practice of Peer Grief Support after Suicide (PGSS):

The plan is to expand the resource directory listings and make them an integral part of the new SGR site. In addition, there is a blog category — Foundational Documents — where items essential to the understanding and development of PGSS are individually referenced and described.

Suicide Grief Resources Blog Is in Development

As the Suicide Grief Resources Project is being launched in 2017, this website serves as a placeholder for what one day will be a gathering place for Peer Suicide Grief Support helpers. Right now, the Welcome page has a few background items on it, and you can contact contact Franklin Cook for more information about the SGR Project.

It’s going to take some time to get the new blog up and running, and in the meantime (just FYI), here are the two blogs that preceded it:

To access the current After a Suicide Resource Directory, click here! (Bitlink: bit.ly/afterasuicide)

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