Our new service across Ayrshire and Arran is designed to support people and families who have recently been bereaved by suicide.

The new service will operate seven days a week; it will make initial contact with bereaved families within 24 hours of a referral and specially trained bereavement support workers will provide customised support relevant to each family’s circumstances.

Our compassionate and highly trained team will be able to identify and offer practical and emotional support to people accessing the service. Our team will have the ability to work collaboratively across other local services. This joined-up approach will ensure a package of tailored support is offered to families during this extremely difficult time.

How do I access support?

People aged 16 and over in Ayrshire and Arran who have recently been bereaved by suicide can access the service by self-referral. People can also be referred by a third party like Police Scotland. You can contact the team by email or telephone on suicidebereavementsupport@nhs.scot – 0800 471 4768 (please note that this is not a 24 hour phone line).

How is the service funded?

The Scottish Government is providing funding of £510,000 for the pilot service which will provide practical and emotional support to families who have lost a loved one to suicide, for up to two years

Shaped by lived experience

The new service has come about from the work of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG). It has been informed and shaped by people who have been affected by suicide.

Five years ago, I lost my 18-year-old son, Dylan to suicide. It is impossible to describe the devastation, grief and confusion that we felt as a family. There was no support offered to families in our position and we relied on each other and close friends to try and navigate the complex practical arrangements as well as our own grief. Just three weeks later, my sister in-law Vanessa, took her own life. No one had ever asked us how we were coping. This service offers a vital lifeline for families bereaved by suicide and may even save lives.

Jenn Barnes is also a member of NSPLG’s Lived Experience Panel. She lost her brother Calum to suicide in 2017.

As a family, knowing that this pilot service will help support and guide loved ones immediately after a loss to suicide, is a great relief,” Jenn says. In the days and weeks after we lost Calum, we had no idea who to turn to for advice and information on practical things like dealing with the police. The new pilot will help to address this situation and ensure that families have answers to basic questions as well as signposts to additional counselling services that they can access as time passes.

The risk of suicide amongst people who have recently been bereaved is elevated. I was extremely worried about both my parents after the loss of my brother and having this scheme in place gives me hope that no family will have to struggle alone during what will probably be the most difficult time of their lives.

Nicola Rylatt lost her husband to suicide. She is a member of NSPLG’s Lived Experience Panel.

Dealing with a bereavement from suicide can be scary and lonely; with so many complicated feelings and unanswered questions.

Having effective support for those grieving in these circumstances is vitally important to protect the mental health of the bereaved, together with providing judgement free resources to work through all aspects of their loss.