Suicide Postvention and Bereaved by Suicide


Dealing with the Aftermath: fresh look at responding to the impact of suicide

The impact of a suicide on whānau and hapū, friends, work colleagues and communities is both profound and enduring with many experiencing a more complicated grieving process that is compounded further by the stigma of suicide or mental illness.

Suicide brings a heightened risk of further suicide within whānau. Intergenerational suicide contagion is now recognised as a significantly increased risk factor, with some research indicating that history of suicide in immediate family can increase suicide risk tenfold. Some whānau or hapū have had numerous family members, often young people, dying by suicide.


Postvention responses need to focus on intergenerational suicide as well assuicide clusters. According to Shneidman, postvention is prevention for the next generation. It is essential that those providing support to those bereaved by suicide are not just competent in bereavement care but also in being able to assist individuals or the whānau to make sense of the death in ways that may lessen the potential of suicide contagion within the whānau. The same principles can be applied to settings such as schools, workplaces and communities.


Our understanding about effective suicide postvention is changing as more research and evaluation has been undertaken. Hear why suicide postvention specialist and programme evaluator, Barry Taylor believes there needs to be a review of how we deliver postvention services and where the focus should be. Based on his suicide postvention work in Australia, he conceptualised, designed and established the Wellington Region Suicide Postvention Response Service over 10 years ago, a model which is being used in other DHBs in New Zealand. As with many programmes there is always a challenge with replication and transferability of models.

Drawing on the contemporary research and thinking in postvention Barry will offer an outcome framework for bereaved by suicide support and postvention response services to assess and review their suicide postvention response as well as the provision of suicide postvention in settings such as schools, mental health NGOs and workplaces.

This workshop aims to build understanding of effective strategies to respond to a death by suicide in different settings: whānau & hapū, ethnic groupings, schools, workplaces, organisations and communities. The workshop also outlines the differences between suicide postvention and suicide bereavement support and how best to manage the tensions between the two approaches as well as providing an overview of effective strategies for supporting those bereaved by suicide.

The principles, objectives and activities of suicide postvention will be discussed. In addition the assessing risk of contagion, postvention mapping, community postvention risk audit, developing an at-risk registry and the roles and responsibilities of community postvention action groups will be described in detail.


Suicide in whānau significantly heightens risk for other members of the whānau and hapū


Inter-generational suicide is more common than suicide clusters in communities


Facts like this demands a rethink of how and what support and postvention services we provide and the need for health, social service, community and educational organisations to pay far more attention to assessing risk or supporting whānau members.

"The person who suicides puts his or her psychological skeleton in the survivor's emotional closet - he/she sentences the survivor to a complex of negative feelings and, most importantly, to obsessing about the reasons for the suicide death".

Edwin S. Shneidman, Suicidologist

Feedback from other participants

“Real life examples and scenarios was helpful in seeing how the theory can be applied practically” 

Social Worker

"Fabulous day, information and trainer...Outstanding knowledge and experience

Youth Counsellor

“Realise how unprepared I am should this happen but leave with practical strategies and insights”

School Dean

"Guidance on how communities should observe a suicide death are very much in line with tikanga on a marae and how we as Māori tango. Very useful for maraes to consider