Cover Image
close this bookPreventing Suicide: How to Start a Survivors Group (WHO, 2000, 50 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentThe importance of self-help support groups
View the documentSurviving a suicide
View the documentImpact of suicide
View the documentSources of help for the bereaved
View the documentHow to initiate a self-help support group for survivors of suicide
View the documentDeveloping the operational framework for the group
View the documentIdentifying and gaining access to resources to support the group
View the documentGauging success
View the documentPotential risk factors for the group
View the documentSurvivor support in developing countries and rural areas
View the documentSurvivor support through “involvement therapy” in other activities
View the documentBack cover

Survivor support in developing countries and rural areas

Support for survivors in developing countries may be non-existent and suicide may be unrecognized as a national problem. What can survivors of suicide in these countries do to find either support or ways to communicate their grief in an effort to advance their healing? In some countries there may be little that can be done at present. Nevertheless, this resource may be helpful, and individuals may find some of the ideas, experiences and thoughts it contains useful.

In developing countries, collaborative action by WHO and the nongovernmental organizations it recognized as relevant to suicide prevention is being focused on stimulating national activities in support of survivors and national suicide prevention initiatives.

The following list of ideas refers to types of activities, individual or collective, that may be helpful. As a minimum, such a list can stimulate creative thinking, which in turn could lead to culturally sensitive and appropriate activities in individual countries.

· Establishment of a resource centre. A resource centre that could deal with requests for information on survivor support and suicide prevention activities would be a strong first step in reaching out to those in underdeveloped and rural areas. The Suicide Information and Education Center in Calgary, Alberta, Canada could serve as a possible model.

· Awareness/education programmes. A collaborative effort by health and educational professionals in developing countries to offer awareness/education programmes on suicide prevention and support for survivors could make a significant beginning.

· Wide distribution of this resource. Wide distribution and availability of this resource could begin to bring awareness of and support for survivor issues in both developing and rural areas.

· WHO International Network for Suicide Prevention and Research. The Mental and Behavioural Disorders team in WHO'S Department of Mental Health has taken the lead in promoting worldwide suicide prevention and support for survivors of suicide. It has also recognized a number of nongovernmental organizations and experts as being relevant to suicide prevention. This network is available to serve in an advisory capacity to help in the establishment of awareness and information programmes, and promote the development of national suicide prevention strategies as called for by WHO.

· Individual activities. For a variety of reasons, individual survivors in developing countries and rural areas must face alone the challenge of surviving the loss of a loved one to suicide. For some, their personal experience of the suicide of a loved one may be the only exposure to such a tragedy in their lifetime. With this in mind, and in the hope of stimulating the development of meaningful and appropriate ways of coping, the following suggestions are offered:

- Talking: Communicating one to one with others provides an opportunity to share feelings and emotions. Finding someone to listen may not be easy but approaching family members, friends and members of religious groups may be good starting points.

- Writing: Written communication has been used by many survivors over a long period of time. Whether by writing a letter to someone, keeping a journal or just filling a page with thoughts and emotions, people find that this form of self-expression can be helpful.

- Art forms: Practising various art forms has been a means of personal expression for centuries. The medium used may be painting, sewing, pottery, woodworking or music, to name a few. Conveying your feelings, thoughts and emotions through some inanimate object can be helpful.

- Joining: Although there may not be other survivors nearby to connect with, the possibility may exist of joining some type of group activity. Participating in such activities involves reaching out and beyond the self. This can help to move the healing process forward through a focus on others.

- Meditation: This individual activity can help the person to focus on problem-solving to move beyond dwelling on the self-pity that survivors are prone to suffer from.

Humans are adept at surviving under the most difficult of situations. The above ideas are offered as starting points for individuals to begin to find their own way out of the tragedy of a loved one's suicide into the new life that is waiting to be discovered.