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Postvention: Support After Suicide

By Tasha Broomhall

The loss of a loved one to suicide devastates families and loved ones. Postvention is the support provided to those who are bereaved by suicide and includes a range of timely, coordinated, and appropriate supports following a sudden loss. Traditionally, however, it can take years for those bereaved by suicide to seek support for themselves.

Postvention Service Trial

In an Australian first in 2019, the Peel and Rockingham Kwinana Community Response Steering Group (PaRK CRSG) and WA Police have collaborated to trial a service which will provide support to families after they have lost a loved one to suicide. The service will run for an initial 12-month period.

In response to a number of suicides in the Rockingham and Mandurah area in 2016, the initiative was created to enhance a comprehensive postvention plan developed by local agencies.

Rapid Response

As part of this trial, when someone dies by suicide, it triggers a rapid response from support services, allowing them to reach out to the immediate family who has been affected, to offer counselling and other much needed support.

PaRK CRSG Chair, Steve Batson confirmed “The addition of the immediate notification service and the rapid response it allows means we can now reach out to more people even earlier to offer support in the critical period immediately following a sudden loss.”

WA Police Sergeant, Paul Trimble said, “There has been an extensive amount of work involving Police and other joint agencies around this trial to ensure families who are bereaved by a loss are receiving the best possible support and care available in the shortest amount of time.”

Coordinated Postvention

WA Primary Health Alliance Suicide Prevention Trial Project Coordinator, Chloe Merna said, “The enthusiasm and dedication of local support services, health services and WA Police is paying off by delivering a truly coordinated postvention response to communities across Peel, Rockingham and Kwinana who, sadly, have been deeply impacted by suicide in recent years.”

While the group supported a small number of people through an unfortunate series of losses during 2018, they were only informed of these cases when Sgt Trimble was on duty. Since starting the trial 100% of losses have been identified and support offered.

Compliant

An extensive amount of work from all agencies involved has ensured that the pilot is compliant with the Coroners Act (1996) and legislation regarding confidentiality and the sharing of sensitive information.

Going Forward

There is a lot of interest in the program from both the WA government and other states and territories, however postvention community response groups must be established prior to the implementation of a similar service. Such groups will then be well positioned to provide the much-needed support to those affected by a sudden loss due to suicide.

Sgt Paul Trimble

Mandurah Police District, Family Violence Team Co-ordinator.

Paul is a Police Sergeant and has been employed in the Western Australia Police Force for 27 years. During that time he has worked in a variety of locations and positions including several years in an isolated town in the North West of Western Australia which involved working closely with at risk youth in an Aboriginal community. Paul works closely with victims of serious crimes and families bereaved to ensure there are appropriate support persons or services in place to assist them in navigating their way forward.

Steve Batson RMN MBA

Program Manager – Community Mental Health / ED Liaison.

Steve is a Registered Nurse and has worked in Mental Health Services since 1992. Originally from the UK where he has worked clinically or in a managerial capacity in a wide range of mental health services including Forensic, General, Older Adult, and Specialised Mental health Services; Steve emigrated to Australia to take up his current position with South West Metro Health Service in 2014. Steve is motivated to deliver high quality care and completed his Master of Business Administration in 2012.

Chloé Merna

Coordinator of the Perth South Suicide Prevention Trial with WA Primary Health Alliance.

With an honours degree in Education, Chloé has worked in an advice and advocacy capacity with University students in the UK and as an AOD counsellor in Australia prior to moving into Project and Program Management in the NFP sector. She has worked intensely with rural and remote communities experiencing intergenerational trauma and those impacted by the loss of young people to co-design and create meaningful and responsive place-based strategies and services. Chloé is driven by her passion for individual and community capacity building.

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