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Suicide Bereavement Support Service pilot evaluation released

We welcome the positive evaluation findings of the Suicide Bereavement Support Service pilot to continue supporting those bereaved by suicide.

Change Mental Health welcomes the positive evaluation findings of the Suicide Bereavement Support Service pilot released today (15th April 2024), including the commitment to continue supporting those bereaved by suicide and the recommendation of the service being made available to anyone in Scotland.

Launched in August 2021, and the evaluation covering to October 2023, the Suicide Bereavement Support Service received 242 referrals, averaging at almost 10 referrals per month and seeing an increasing need for support over time.

Key statistics around the Suicide Bereavement Support Service in the evaluation include:

  • 2,670 support sessions delivered
  • 2,089 hours of time spent on support sessions
  • 99% of first contact attempted within 24 hours of referral.

Nick Ward, CEO at Change Mental Health, said:

“We are really pleased that this independent report shows how invaluable post suicide support is for the whole community. We know that suicide can have a horrific effect upon families and communities and this service is at the forefront of the essential work to preventing suicide.

“Everyone, everywhere, deserves access to this service so we are pleased to see the Scottish Government and COSLA committing to roll out the service further in the near future.”

The Suicide Bereavement Support Service is for anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide, providing free and confidential one-to-one support in Highland and Argyll & Bute by Change Mental Health, and Ayrshire and Arran by Penumbra Mental Health.

Support is delivered flexibly to the needs of an individual, through their preferred method of communication and can be in the days, weeks, months or years following a loss.

Lara Van de Peer, Service Manager for Suicide Bereavement Support Service at Change Mental Health, said:

“Our service gently helps people to navigate the many and complex feelings and emotions that can follow a suicide.”

Feedback from those who have been referred to the Suicide Bereavement Support Service has been consistently positive, both in terms of process and their perceptions of the service, recognising how it offers tailored support which meets the unique needs of people bereaved by suicide.

“The support I have received from the Suicide Bereavement Support Service has been invaluable in enabling me to find the strength to rebuild my life and my heart.”

A person supported through the service. You can read more about the service’s impact in the Time Space Compassion Practice Stories.

During the pilot, extensive learning about the emotional support needs of those bereaved by suicide has been gathered. This has included factoring in the immediate emotional needs following a bereavement by suicide related to the impact of trauma people have experienced, while acknowledging that everyone is at a different point in their bereavement journey which are influenced by different circumstances and wider life events.

The Suicide Bereavement Support Service teams have a range of tools, approaches and models at their disposal to meet the emotional needs of the people they support. This is critical to providing flexible and person-led support, along with a compassionate and person-centred approach – a model pivotally informed through the involvement of people with lived experience of bereavement by suicide.


Haylis Smith, National Delivery Lead for Suicide Prevention Scotland, said:

“Following the publication of the evaluation into the effectiveness of the Suicide Bereavement Support pilot services, we welcome the Scottish Government and COSLA’s commitment to continue a roll-out bereavement support across the country as a key priority.”

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