Impacted by suicide during a the coronavirus lockdown 2020

Introduction

You may be visiting this page because you have lost someone to suicide, and are unsure of what this means during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

When you first learn that someone close to you may have taken their own life, you can feel completely at a loss, unsure what to do or what will happen next. In this very difficult time, where the whole country is facing lockdown, restrictions and uncertainty, you may feel completely overwhelmed and not be sure how to cope.

We have information and support which we hope will be helpful: including a booklet called Help is at Hand, written by people who have experienced bereavement by suicide themselves. This publication provides some information about what you might be feeling, practical matters you may have to deal with and suggestions for further help and support in the weeks and months ahead. 

At the moment, the support available and the guidance in Help is at Hand might differ from what is actually happening where you live. Some services may be offering remote support rather than face to face, and there may be restrictions in how funerals or inquests can be held. 

It may be very difficult to have to think about the government’s regulations and other people’s health at a time you could be finding it hard to cope yourself. We have put together some information about what you might be able to expect (see below) and have made a few suggestions for coping strategies during such a difficult time.

How will funerals be affected?

The government has limited gatherings to just two people for at least three weeks from 24th March 2020, and this may continue for a longer period.  Ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms are now prohibited. Each area currently has its own advice and guidance on funerals but, in a fast-moving situation, this may change in the coming weeks. In Scotland, for example, a funeral cannot be attended by more than 5 people. Across England, this number varies. We will try to keep you updated here, but we would recommend that you speak to your funeral director, or contact your Local Authority for advice specific to where you live. Support services are also likely to have up to date information.

The safety of you, your family, and everyone mourning your loved one is so important, but the current crisis may mean that there are restrictions on how the funeral can be held and who can attend. You may consider planning a memorial at a later date when the restrictions have been lifted. Memorial services are often held some time after a death, sometimes up to a year or so, are not unusual and can be held in churches or other religious buildings, or a secular memorial can be held at a venue of your choice.  Some people who have been bereaved by suicide will use a fund raising event for a charity of their choosing, which is meaningful to them, as an opportunity to plan a memorial to their loved one. At the moment, it wouldn’t be possible to hold such an event but you may find it therapeutic to start to plan something for when the restrictions are lifted.

Faith organisations will be including updated guidance on funerals on their websites, some of which are below: 

Church of England

Catholic Church for England and Wales

Muslim Council of Britain

Quaker Social Action

Humanist Society

The National Association of Funeral Directors has advice and guidance too on their website.

Will inquests go ahead?

Inquests have not been automatically adjourned, but you may find that there are some delays and many Coroners’ Courts have been closed. Some Coroner’s buildings are closed, to minimise the risk to staff, and witnesses from NHS services and Police are unlikely to be available during the Pandemic as they are front line workers.  It’s important to note that coroners and their officers are still working remotely. All Coroners in England & Wales will have made decisions about whether to hold an inquest in private, or postpone it until further notice, and will take into account the wishes of the bereaved where they can. Updated information on decisions taken in the area where your loved one’s Inquest will take place will be uploaded onto the Coroner’s website in the relevant jurisdiction. 

Support for Coroners’ Court and inquests

The Coroner’s Court Support Service have a national helpline, which is open and can advise you how to find information about your Coroner or Inquest. You can contact them by phone  0300 111 2141 or email: [email protected] 

Looking after yourself while isolating and social distancing

Being impacted by suicide can be a very isolating and lonely experience. When the whole population is restricted from being together, this can feel even worse.  At the moment, there are millions of people coping with isolation in the context of keeping safe from a virus; however, for people who have also been bereaved by suicide, it may well feel so much more alienating and you may feel disconnected from the rest of the world. Know it’s not just you, and you are not alone. There’s always someone to talk to, even if the services are operating a bit differently at the moment. It’s really important that you don’t feel alone in your grief and that you seek the support of family, friends and colleagues to help you cope.

Keeping a sense of order and routine in your life will be very important right now. When everything else is so uncertain, your home will become a safe space for you to spend time. Remember to take life one day at a time, and that you may find setting yourself one manageable thing to do that you feel you can achieve, can help. 

Talking about how you are feeling is really important. Perhaps ask a friend to check in with you every few days, even for a few minutes on text, FaceTime or video apps. If it feels too much to talk about the person who died, or you feel you might not know what to say, it might be helpful to plan to watch something with a friend over the phone, or to talk about a common interest 

Social media platforms offer us ways to keep in touch, to share memories, photos and stories of the person who has died. Even if we can’t be together in person, we can reach out online to feel less alone.  However, we would strongly advise caution when using social media at this time, to ensure your security settings are set at high in order to protect you from people who you may not know well. Make sure you only have online contact with people whom you know and trust as you will inevitably be emotionally vulnerable.

Support services

Many support services are still delivering support, so do check to see what they are currently offering. Government restrictions mean that face to face support will not be possible, but online, telephone, or text services can be helpful and supportive.. Please look at the Support after Suicide website, and map of support, and AtaLoss.org for services close to you.  

Support groups, where people are able to meet and share their experiences of loss, are unable to operate under current restrictions.  However, it is still worthwhile to contact organisations that deliver support groups to see what other types of support they may be able to provide during this difficult time.

Order a copy of Help is at Hand, if you haven’t been given one

Ask local services if they can help you 

National Helplines 

Samaritans continue to operate as normal and are always open, and their number is 116 123. 

CALM are there for people through the phone or via their webchat service, every day of the year, 5pm – midnight. You can call them on 0800 585858 or visit their website

Cruse Bereavement Care their national helpline number is 0808 808 1677

SOBs their helpline has been extended to be open at the weekend. Their number is 0300 111 5065

Winston’s Wish advice on how to support a child or young person following the death of someone important. They have a national Freephone helpline on 08088 020021, ASK E-mail service, Live Chat and Crisis Text services are also available: www.winstonwish.org

Regional Support

For Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Gateshead, Newcastle, or County Durham If U Care Share Foundation are there to help. They are contactable by phone – 0191 387 5661 – or through the form on their website.

For Cheshire and Merseyside, Suffolk, South Yorkshire, Lancashire, Blackburn and Blackpool AMPARO offer proactive suicide bereavement support. They are currently taking referrals and offering support remotely. You can contact them by phone 0330 088 9255 or email [email protected]. Information is available on their website

For Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Bassetlaw, The Tomorrow Project offer proactive support to anyone impacted by suicide. Referrals can be made any way a person feels comfortable, including through email – [email protected] or you can call or send a text to 07435 111025 . Please just write or leave a message and someone will respond within 72 hours.

For Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Outlook South West are a specialist service developed to support adults over the age of 18 years who have been bereaved by suicide. If you or someone you know would like to access this free service you can call 01208 871905, or referrals can be made by your GP/health professional.

For Devon Pete’s Dragons offer support to anyone impacted by suicide, and are continuing to work remotely and online. You can get in touch with them by phone – 01395 277 780 – or email [email protected]

Online support 

Let’s talk about loss Younger people (18-35) “a safe space to talk through taboos and address the reality of losing someone close to you when you are young” https://letstalkaboutloss.org/

SOBS online forum: https://uksobs.org/forum-self-referral/ you can self refer and you are given a log in to access the forum

The Compassionate Friends also deliver a moderated online forum for parents bereaved by any death, including suicide.

SASP is a programme hosted by Samaritans, registered charity number 219432 and SC040604. Copyright Samaritans © 2020