Dealing with the Aftermath: Responding to the impact of a suicide in different settings

28 March - 9:00am - 28 March 2019 - 4:30pm

"The person who suicides puts his or her psychological skeleton in the survivor's emotional closet - he/she sentences the survivor to a complex of negative feelings and, most importantly, to obsessing about the reasons for the suicide death"    Edwin S. Shneidman, Suicidologist

The impact of a suicide on whānau and hapū, friends, work colleagues and communities is both profound and enduring with many experiencing a more complicated grieving process that is compounded further by the stigma of suicide or mental illness.

Suicide brings a heightened risk of further suicide within whānau. Intergenerational suicide contagion is now recognised as an increased risk factor, with some research indicating that history of suicide in immediate family can increase suicide risk tenfold. Some whānau or hapū have had numerous family members, often young people, dying by suicide. It is essential that those providing support to those bereaved by suicide are not just competent in bereavement care but also in being able to assist individuals or the whānau to make sense of the death by suicide in ways that may lessen the potential of suicide contagion within the whānau. The same principles can be applied to settings such as schools, workplaces and communities.

This workshop builds understanding of effective strategies to respond to a death by suicide in different settings: whānau & hapū, ethnic groupings, schools, workplaces, organisations and communities. The workshop also outlines the differences between suicide postvention and suicide bereavement support and hot best to manage the tensions between the two approaches as well as providing an overview of effective strategies for supporting those bereaved by suicide.

It is important to understand that suicide postvention is more than just about bereavement support. It also needs to be viewed in the context of the suicide prevention continuum. The principles, objectives and activities of suicide postvention will be discussed. In addition the assessing risk of contagion, postvention mapping, community postvention risk audit, developing an at-risk registry and the roles and responsibilities of community postvention action groups will be described in detail.

Topics covered:

  • The impact of suicide on friends, families, agencies and community – an ecological model
  • Suicide specific grief and supporting those grieving
  • Suicide Contagion: What it is and why it occurs
  • Inter-generational suicide within family systems
  • Principles objectives and activities of Suicide Postvention
  • Tensions between suicide postvention and bereaved by suicide outcomes
  • Cultural considerations in providing a postvention response
  • Mapping those at risk of suicide, monitoring and support needs
  • Assessing risk of contagion, auditing community postvention capacity and capabilities, 
  • Suicide At-Risk Registry, monitoring and follow-up
  • Agency policies and procedures in the event of a death by suicide
  • Developing an organisation or community suicide postvention plan

Previous participant's comments on the workshop

Feedback from previous workshop participants stated that this workshop was very relevant and helpful to their work and that their knowledge, comfortableness, competency and confidence about suicide postvention had significantly increased. Participants were appreciative of the breadth and depth the topics covered and the practical approaches recommended and the use of real life scenarios.

“Real life examples and scenarios was helpful in seeing how the theory can be applied practically” 
Social Worker

“Realise how unprepared I am should this happen but leave with practical strategies and insights”
School Dean

“Fabulous day, information and trainer…Outstanding knowledge and experience”
Youth Counsellor

"Guidance on how communities should observe a suicide death are very much in line with tikanaga on marae and how we as Maori tangi.  Very useful for maraes to consider." 

An opportunity for a day of learning with award winning suicide postvention specialist, Barry Taylor


Barry has proven leadership over 30 years at local, national and international levels in using community initiatives and strength-based approaches to improve individual and community wellbeing and the prevention of suicide. He has extensive experience in the development, implementation and evaluation of programmes at the local and national level, especially creating collaborative partnerships to prevent or respond to suicide.

Barry has extensive experience in suicide postvention. He has guided numerous communities, schools, universities, workplaces and mental health organisations through the aftermath of a suicide as well as providing support to those bereaved by suicide. He is a member of the Clusters and Contagion in Suicidal Behaviour and the Suicide Postvention and Bereavement Special Interest Groups of the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

He has advised governments on effective postvention strategies and provided guidance for schools in both New Zealand and Australia. In 1990 he wrote the first postvention guidelines for New Zealand schools, In a Time of Crisis. In 2007 he developed the Wellington Regional Postvention Response, a whole of community response aimed at preventing suicide contagion and ensuring appropriate support to the bereaved. He has a particular interest in the rise of intergenerational suicide in whānau and hapū, especially in men.

After a number of years overseas, Barry is living back in New Zealand and is passionate about building the knowledge base, competence and capability within our country to effectively respond to the unacceptably high rate of suicide in this country.

People who would benefit from attending this workshop are:

  • Bereaved by suicide support group leaders
  • Clergy and Funeral Celebrants
  • Corrections and Juvenile Justices institutions
  • Educational and training organisations
  • Iwi health and welfare services
  • Loss and Grief services - especially bereaved by suicide
  • Mental health service and mental health support NGOs
  • Rural support agencies
  • School counsellors, deans, pastoral care
  • Tertiary student health services, chaplaincy, halls of residence
  • Victim Support
  • Welfare agencies
  • Workplace EAP Programs and HR Departments
  • Workplace Support
  • Youth Services