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Suicide Bereavement Conference 2023

'Stand by me', 'wear your heart on your sleeve', 'making space for silence', 'creating conversations when silence is too much'; these are but a few of the themes from this year's annual Suicide Bereavement Conference. With heartfelt thanks to Dr Sharon McDonnell for assembling the troops to share knowledge, stories, and some tears.

It was with great pleasure that I attended the conference with Allison Furlong, founder of Alfie’s Squad, supporting children bereaved by suicide, in Liverpool.

The day was enigmatically chaired by Angela Samara who introduced an incredible panel of speakers. Everyone in the room recognized difference; differences in how we all grieve and how our society responds to utterances of suicide and self-harm.

I will continue to follow Sharon's pioneering research into suicide in the armed forces, keenly waiting to read the support packs that she's writing for the armed forces community. I know that her material will provide a blanket for those needing help and who want hope.

I also thank Efrem Brynin of StrongMen for empowering men, providing them with a space to grieve, to give them purpose, and for sharing his story. I look forward to seeing him again at the Irwin Mitchell Bereavement Conference in December.

As well as talking about the psychological impact and the trauma of grief, many of us had conversations about the practical aspects of losing a family member or friend. WAY (Widowed And Young) work tirelessly to provide the bereaved with accessible information to navigate the practical steps that need to be taken after a bereavement.

Grief is complicated, it's unique and needs space and time.

As a solicitor who represents families at inquests, I'm encouraged that the coronial system is starting to put bereaved families and friends at the heart of the inquest, but more can be done. We can always achieve more; we can always be better.  

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's work in supporting families affected by suicide at the dedicated section on our website.