I needed some help totally removed from the family… I felt safe with [a GP-based] counsellor. (Ursula)
If I could just have talked with somebody else, just to somebody else that it had happened to, just to say how much I blamed myself and they could say, 'Well everybody feels like that, you know. I felt like that, and it's not your fault.' (Jennifer)
Earlier studies of the impact of suicide have suggested that with selfinflicted deaths: 'the coping mechanisms of the bereaved…are especially likely to be thrown into disarray' (Shepherd and Barraclough 1979:67). But while subsequent research has modified the view that suicide bereavement is necessarily always a catastrophic event (Clark and Goldney 2000), survivors may still look for support outside their own family and social networks.
The people interviewed for this book had found help from a number of different sources including: general practitioners and other members of the primary care team, volunteer bereavement counsellors, other non-specialist counsellors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, social workers, clergy, and other survivors.
Help from 'outsiders' such as bereavement counsellors should not supplant the support of family and friends because 'the care of the bereaved is
* The survivors in this book were interviewed in the late 1980s, since when specialist help for bereaved people has become more widely available, from both voluntary organisations and professionals (Parkes 1998). However, specialist help for suicide survivors remains very patchy. Some bereavement services are well informed about the particular issues likely to arise in suicide bereavement and some professionals also have relevant knowledge and experience, but this is by no means universal. Newly bereaved survivors can still find it difficult to get the help they need, so although Chapter 15 provides a more up-to-date picture of support services, this chapter has been retained. It is also retained as part of this second edition because the survivors' experiences of looking for and using support are an integral part of their stories.