A SERVICE which offers support to those impacted by the suicide of loved ones is hoping to start more conversations in the community after its expansion in northern Victoria earlier this year.
StandBy Support After Suicide gives 24/7 support to anyone in need – but it also wants to make connections with businesses and community groups to try to address stigma that can follow relatives.
Alannah McGregor, who lost her daughter Angela and son Stuart to suicide 15 years ago, helped to establish the service in the region after finding that there was a lack of understanding about the impact suicide could have on loved ones.
She said there was still work to do to ensure people could be supportive of one another in difficult times.
“I came back to work six weeks after Angela died - two weeks after Stuart died - and people that I worked with, some of them just went on as if nothing had happened,” Ms McGregor said.
“It was ‘hi, how are you going?’ and that elephant in the room was really, really hard.
“I’m sure that StandBy would be really good at going into workplaces and discussing with people how they can support someone.”
She said the support of a program like StandBy would have helped her “sort through the maze of confusion”.
The program was expanded across the entire Murray Primary Health Network earlier this year, covering the region from Mildura to Wodonga, and down to Marysville and Woodend.
It was previously only in the Loddon-Mallee region.
StandBy supports anyone bereaved or impacted by suicide, whether it is individuals, families, friends, workplaces, schools, witnesses, community groups or first responders.
It includes tailored community workshops, referrals and face-to-face or telephone support.
Lucinda Fraser, who delivers the program in the Murray PHN, said they were eager to link people with ongoing support.
“The reason we support so many people is because we recognise, from anecdotal stories as well as the research and literature that suicide has an enormous ripple effect and you can’t really predict how far it will go, but it will be quite significant,” she said.
“We cover suicides that might have happened today, yesterday, a week ago, a year ago, 20 years ago, it doesn’t matter when the suicide occurred.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to build community capacity and resilience, regarding suicide, trauma and crisis in general.”
For more information, visit www.standbysupport.com.au or contact the Murray service on 0439 173 310.
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