Extending a helping hand to others

Helping those who have lost someone to suicide

Published on 16 November 2018

Experts from the University of Sunderland have been showing their caring side by lending a helping hand to those dealing with the aftermath of suicide.

Saturday marks Survivor Day, where people across the world affected by suicide come together to support and remember.

Between 10am and 2pm at Millennium Place in Durham City Centre, staff from Positive Directions NE will be holding a small gathering as they remember those who have been lost.

Stephanie Hunter, a Senior lecturer in Social Sciences at the University was aware of the good work carried out by Positive Directions NE, a community interest company which works with a range of adults and young people aged 16 and over who need to change direction or focus due to challenging personal circumstances.

She said: “Here at the University, we stay linked to good practice by working with schools, and other training providers.

“I volunteered to deliver training to Positive Directions team and I wanted to provide ideas, interventions and advice in relation to recovery from trauma.

“The team has recently lost someone close to them and I wanted to ensure they developed coping skills to enable the continuity for their client’s intensive support was not impacted.

“I was so impressed by the team, in spite of their loss they wanted to reach out and help others. This is one of the domains of post traumatic growth, a development of deeper sense of compassion for those who are suffering. I can take no credit for this idea but I think the participation in Survivor Day is powerful and I would anticipate potentially healing.”   

Mandy Duncan Jones, Chief Executive of Positive Directions, added: “We know how isolating it can be for survivors of suicide loss, who can sadly still feel stigmatized. It can leave family and friends feeling guilty and alone.

“We are also aware the risks of imitation are high after suicide therefore support is vital to ensure family and friends are less vulnerable and we hope ultimately the current high numbers of suicides reduces.

“We are now acutely aware of the trauma associated with this type of bereavement and have become trauma informed as a team. Survivor Day is the one day of the year when people affected by suicide loss gather round the world at events in their local communities to find comfort.

“Our great British bus Elizabus will be available for tea and coffee and music will be provided for reflection between 10am and 2pm.”