Statement from the Suicide Bereavement Support Steering Group

In an ambition to extend and strengthen the support available to local people who have been bereaved by suicide, the steering group of Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) Cumbria has created a new and independent organisation for our area. Suicide Bereavement Support (SBS) aims to support local people by using local resources, whilst continuing to work in partnership with national colleagues and local agencies.

We are now working as Suicide Bereavement Support (SBS) covering Cumbria, South Scotland and North Lancashire.

We will continue operate using the same self-help principle as we have for the past nine years. We will still provide the groups in Kendal, Whitehaven and Carlisle, as we do now. The Facebook presence (both the open page and closed group) will continue to function, as will our Twitter account.

The SBS steering group believes that independent operation will allow us to develop a stronger, more flexible response to the tragic loss of life by local people to suicide. We can pursue local projects to meet community needs identified during our nine years of experience in the area.

Free from the constraints of a national organisation we will be able to expand our goals and activities. Some of these may include for example prevention (people who have been bereaved by suicide can be at risk of taking their own lives), ensuring people are able to access appropriate counselling, campaigning and research.

Importantly, we will be able to spend money raised in the region in response to the local need, whilst being held directly accountable for how money is spent. We remain open to working in partnership with national, regional and local groups in the future to best serve those who have been touched by suicide in our locality.

Colin Cox, Director of Public Health at Cumbria County Council, said:

“I very much welcome the establishment of Suicide Bereavement Support. Cumbria has a higher rate of suicide than the national average, and every death by suicide has a huge impact on family, friends and the wider community. The work that the group has done in the past as SOBS has been invaluable in supporting many people who have been bereaved, and setting themselves up as an independent group will mean that they will be able to support people in new ways that will be even more tailored to local circumstances and needs. The volunteers are experts through personal experience and I know that as the group develops further they will continue to be an important part of the Cumbrian approach to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it.”

We hope and trust that you will support Suicide Bereavement Support. In the meantime if there is anything you would like to discuss or clarify, please feel free to give John Brown who has taken on the role of Chair for the group a ring on 07961 968 993.