A Leeds based postvention suicide bereavement support service is to be rolled out across West Yorkshire and Harrogate in the latest funding boost for mental health services in the area.

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WY&H HCP) secured £173,000 from NHS England/NHS Improvement to enhance suicide bereavement support services in the region.

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The new service will be an extension of the Leeds Suicide Bereavement Service, now in its fourth year; set up in 2015, led by Leeds Mind with support from Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service and funded by Leeds City Council.

As an expansion of the Leeds service, additional workers with personal experience of bereavement by suicide will offer a variety of support, including individual and group peer support, advocacy and memorial events. This includes emotional help to support people’s reactions to the death, practical support in how to negotiate what happens next, signposting to other needed services, for example counselling or financial advice.

This new postvention service will allow people to self-refer, or to be referred by other people, such as funeral directors, the police, coroners, or NHS staff across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.

Additional support will also be offered to staff who have lost those they have supported to suicide in the course of their duties; for example health, social care or emergency service staff.

Postvention seeks to provide proactive and timely support to people in the immediate aftermath of a suicide. This is well evidenced in reducing the life time risk of suicide. Postvention also addresses the isolation often felt by survivors of suicide bereavement and challenges the stigma associated with death by suicide. Support  is also available to people who have been bereaved historically yet feel they may benefit from peer led supports.

The expanded service will help deliver on the NHS commitment in its Long Term Plan to put in place suicide bereavement support for families and staff in every area of the country.

Yorkshire and Humber has one of the highest suicide rates in the country and worryingly, people bereaved by suicide are more likely to suffer from severe depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, or even adopt suicidal behaviours themselves.

Rob Webster, CEO for South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust and CEO Lead for West Yorkshire and Harrogate (WY&H) Health and Care Partnership, said:

We’re delighted to have received this much

CEO Rob Webster

need funding to enable the Leeds model to be shared across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. The money will be well spent – helping people recently bereaved through the death of a loved one through suicide. As someone who has been personally affected by suicide, I understand the impact not just on the person, but also the devastating impact on family and friends left behind’.

Sara Munro, CEO, Leeds and York Partnership Foundation NHS Trust, and CEO Lead for WY&H HCP Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism Programme, said:

‘The impact of suicide on families, friends, care givers and professionals cannot be underestimated.  Post vention support is proven to be highly effective to support people in the aftermath of suicide.  With this investment we can take the outstanding work that has been done in Leeds and make this available to all those who need it and will benefit from across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.  As well as supporting bereaved families the programme will also importantly provide training for organisations, help staff that have lost someone to suicide and also those who work with bereaved families’.

Dr Ian Cameron, Director for Public Health, Leeds City Council said:

‘We’re delighted to hear the Partnership has received this much needed funding for a valuable service which offers comfort and support when people are most in need of kindness and understanding. This is an extension of the well evaluated model employed within the existing Leeds partnership way of working. It’s reassuring to know that the programme will reach even more people in need of specialist support”.

Laura Pattison, Senior Postvention Practitioner from Leeds Suicide Bereavement Service said:

‘We are delighted to have been successful in securing this funding and to be able to provide much needed support to people bereaved by suicide across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. It’s a testament to fantastic partnership working and we are eager to start providing support to people at such difficult times’.

The news comes days after WY&H HCP secured £114K in funding to further develop targeted support for men who are at risk of self-harm and suicide.