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 through “involvement therapy” in other activities

Most of this resource is devoted to developing successful self-help support groups for survivors. However, the last 20 years of the 20th century saw the emergence of a wide variety of other group activities created and largely carried out by survivors acting collectively. These activities provide support for survivors through what has come to be called “involvement therapy”.

The listing below, which is not exhaustive, gives a short description of some of these activities.

· Survivor of suicide support teams. Survivors are trained in making, upon request, home visits to those newly bereaved by suicide. These mutually valuable visits help to launch a successful recovery process for new survivors.

· Educational/informational programmes. Trained survivors make presentations to community groups, businesses and civic organizations on the problem of suicide. Warning signs and risk and protective factors are usually described.

· Youth educational programmes. Parents who are survivors of a youth suicide often find that presenting educational programmes to school audiences is well received. Care must be exercised to avoid conveying the perception that suicide is an acceptable option.

· Joining suicide prevention/survivor associations. A number of these associations offer special programmes and activities for survivors, in addition to leadership opportunities for activists.

· Lifekeeper memory quilts. A survivor from the United States, Sandy Martin, conceived the idea of putting pictures of loved ones who have died by suicide on art-quality quilts. This highlights the tragedy of human life lost to suicide as a vivid contrast to the cold statistics normally used to portray suicide.

· Lifekeeper memory jewelry. This is another Sandy Martin idea. It features the symbol for infinity, set in gold or silver jewelry, as a reminder to survivors to “keep life forever”, even though they have lost a loved one to suicide. The jewelry provides a constant reminder to work for suicide prevention.

· Advocacy/political will. Working from UN/WHO strategies for implementing national suicide prevention programmes, the Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network (SPAN) USA has developed an effective programme that uses advocacy letters to build political will (of these is enough demand for suicide prevention programmes, political action to develop and implement national suicide prevention strategies becomes a popular proposition).

· Help/crisis lines. These telephone lines provide callers with a connection to trained response personnel, often survivors. The service is designed to provide a caring, concerned listener who can direct callers to appropriate services and divert them from self-destructive behaviour.

· Volunteer services. Many survivors find volunteering to help mental health non-profit organizations or outreach programmes of religious communities to be effective ways of “making a difference”.

· Awareness programmes/activities. The possibilities here are almost limitless - from highway billboards to community walks, from civic programmes/activities to video programmes, and from clothing with printed messages to local survivor conferences.