Mental Health System 'Lacking Support For Suicide Survivors'

Campaigner Cara Anna Hopes To Improve Services For Suicide Survivors

03.09.2014

US journalist Cara Anna is hoping to begin working with mental health charities in the UK to improve the quality of services available for those who have survived attempts to end their own lives.

She believes that there is not enough support for these individuals and feels that many are forced to keep quiet about the issue for fear that it will “define” them. She told the Guardian that it is time to address the fact that suicide-attempt survivors feel they do not have access to the support they need.

The US-based journalist, who has survived two attempts to end her own life, said many survivor support groups have traditionally been tailored to those bereaved by suicide, rather than individuals who have tried to take their own life.

She has since launched her own website to support survivors and runs a similar service on behalf of The Association of Suicidology (AAS), which has now committed to including suicide attempt survivors in its activities and launched a dedicated service for those affected by the issue.

Her comments follow a study conducted by Sane Australia last month, which indicated that support for suicide survivors is lacking, but also that the knowledge and experience these individuals have are not being used to help others in similar situations.

Sane Australia’s suicide prevention manager, Sarah Coker, said: “People who have survived a suicide attempt are extremely vulnerable and unfortunately they can encounter negative, dismissive or discriminating attitudes, which can make them feel they are not deserving of help.” 

The organisation has called for those who have attempted to take their own lives to be integrated into the mental health system to help improve treatment and support services.

Expert Opinion
Providing mental health patients with the support they need is a key priority and it is important every possible avenue for improved treatment and support mechanisms is investigated.

“Suicide attempt survivors are often vulnerable people and it is vital specific care plans are implemented to help them manage their conditions and live with them as best as possible.

“It is clear that action is needed to improve the services and resources mental health patients can turn to across the country so they are able to access specialist care dedicated to their needs. Until then, we will continue to see cases of individuals causing avoidable harm to themselves."
Tom Fletcher, Associate