We have self-help support groups across the UK, where you can meet with other people who have been bereaved by suicide. They provide an opportunity to listen, to share, to ask questions and to connect with others.
Groups are led by a small team of volunteers, most have been bereaved by suicide themselves. They typically meet once a month and last for around 2 hours. There is no set structure to the session – people are free to talk and listen as they wish. Many groups also offer a small resource library and can share information about local sources of support.
We know it takes courage to come to a group. You won’t have to talk if you don’t want to – many people don’t, particularly the first time that they come. You don’t have to come again – you don’t even have to stay for the whole session if you decide it’s not for you. But most people return after their first meeting and find that over time, they gain the confidence to speak about themselves. After a while they may also find they can offer support to others. If you come to a group but decide that it is not the right thing for you at this time, you are welcome to return at a later date when you feel ready.
You can search to find out where your nearest group meets. The first step is to contact the group leader – they can answer any questions, help you decide if it is the right thing for you to try, give you directions and they will look out for you when you arrive and make you feel welcome. Please bear in mind our Volunteers have lives of their own and will contact you in their own free time, which maybe at the end of the working day.
Unfortunately we don’t yet have a group within reasonable travelling distance of everyone in the UK. If you are unable to get to a group, we recommend that you consider using our helpline or email support service or check to see if there are any other organisations working locally. We are always opening new groups, keep an eye on our latest news.
Please note that we signpost non-affiliated suicide bereavement groups. This means that SoBS does not have any association or connection to a particular person or organisation. SoBS is not responsible in any way for the running of non-affiliated groups.
Who goes to groups?
All sorts of people. Our only restriction is that you must be over 18. But you will find a real mixture of people, some who may have been bereaved recently, others who may have been bereaved many years before.
Is a group right for me?
We are all different so groups are not right for everyone – and we are not all ready to try them at the same time. When you call the group leader, they will answer any questions you may have and will help you to understand if it may be beneficial for you. If you don’t find the group helpful, you don’t have to stay or return – although you could also find that the group is the right thing to try again later in your bereavement. You could also try talking one to one with someone through our helpline or e-mail.
What do you talk about?
The topics discussed vary from week to week but often includes people sharing their story, how they are feeling, what has happened since their last group visit, questions about coroners and discussions about common challenges such as flashbacks, supporting children or facing neighbours.
I’m nervous, I don’t know if I can face all those people?
Most of us are nervous when we attend our first session, it can take a lot of courage. You are welcome to bring a relative or friend with you for support. You won’t have to talk at all if you don’t want to – many people find that they can’t at their first session. Everyone in the room will have experienced bereavement by suicide – it is a place where you can know that others have some understanding of what you are experiencing and that they are not judging you.
Is it a counselling session?
No – groups are about self help, connecting people who have been bereaved so that they can support and share with each other. Some people attend groups as well as counselling sessions. If you want to find out more about counselling services, talk with your GP or have a look at other organisations.
Who are the group leaders?
Our groups are led by our trained volunteers. We typically have a team of 3 volunteers supporting each group. All of our group leaders have been bereaved by suicide themselves, not less than 3 years previously – as have the majority of our other volunteers.
Do I have to pay?
Our local groups are free to attend. Donations are always welcome but we do not charge fees.
Is there a waiting list?
We do not have waiting lists. You simply need to call the group leader before attending your first session. After that you may attend as often as you wish.
How many sessions can I come to?
You can come as often as you wish. We all have different needs – some people come more frequently initially and then attend less regularly over time. Others attend every month and others come sporadically. Some people stop coming but after a time something changes or happens which gives rise to feelings that they would like to talk about. Some people return even though they are feeling much stronger because they want support newer group members.
Does it matter that my bereavement happened a long time ago?
We know that the impact of a bereavement by suicide is long lasting and that many people do not find an opportunity to talk about it until many years after. You are welcome to attend our group regardless of how long it has been.