People bereaved or affected by a suspected suicide should be given information and offered tailored support, according to a new quality standard from NICE on suicide prevention.

The Office for National Statistics published data that showed the suicide rate in the UK has risen for the first time since 2013, with 11.2 deaths recorded as suicide per 100,000 people in 2018 - up from 10.1 in 2017.

Those who are bereaved or affected by a suspected suicide are themselves at increased risk of suicide and the quality standard covers five key ways to reduce suicide and help people bereaved or affected by suicide.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE said: “Suicide can have a devastating and traumatic experience for anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one. It is a difficult subject to talk about and too often it’s not clear what help is available.

“Bereavement support can help reduce the risk of those affected by a suicide taking their own life. It is important that service providers such as police, hospitals, ambulance services and GPs identify people to give information to and to ask if they need help.

“No one should have to go through the unexpected death of someone dear to them alone and by offering information and tailored support, those affected can be supported both emotionally and practically.”

Tailored support for those affected by suicide

NICE has said that tailored support should be focused on the person’s individual needs. As well as professional support, it could include:

  • support from trained peers who have been bereaved or affected by a suicide or suspected suicide
  • adjustments to working patterns or the regime in residential custodial and detention settings

A booklet developed by Public Health England and the National Suicide Prevention Alliance – Help is at Hand – has been highlighted as a good resource offering emotional and practical support/advice for those left bereaved by a suspected suicide.