An Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing counsellor explained how their health service responded to suicides:
I was part of a network that was called upon if there was a suicide. All of us would all get together and discuss who’s going to support that family. Well as soon as I heard there was a suicide, that day, I used to go round and pay respect to all the other people who had their loved one die from suicide. Because when another one dies, this family will go back in mourning. That’s what I found. I’d go to this family who just lost their loved one to suicide, go and shake our hands, that’s what we do, go and show respect, and then I’d go to the last one that died of suicide, I know they were in mourning, so I’d go there and just sit there with them, and they’d be talking about their loved ones. And then the next one, and then the next, but it was getting bigger, the number of families to visit in one day was too big for me to do in one day. But I know that they were grieving so I used to ring up and say look, I’m thinking of you. Because I knew that they would go back into that grieving process.
Some people travel for miles to go and show respect, and you could be just going there and just shake hands with everybody and just sit in silence, and that’s part of that grieving process for that family. Because everybody’s thinking of that loved one you know.
And I heard one urban family was grieving one time, and then Aunty … , this Catholic lady, well known, well respected, traditional. When she went to this family’s home, I saw one of the girls the day after, and they said we were really and truly upset with one another and then we were so honoured when Aunty … come and shook our hands. It just took away that whatever was happening with the whole family. And they felt like safe and in God’s hands or something, she was saying, because Aunty came visited us, her being Aunty …, she came and visited us, but we don’t know her, but when she came, she kind of soothed everybody, and I reckon that was a blessing as well. And that brings healing as well.
A counsellor also described a support group established at the health service for women who had lost a child to suicide:
So what I did is I got all these mothers and they talked about how they felt when their child had suicided. And I stepped out and I was just watching that process happen between all the mothers. There must have been about 12 mothers who were talking about their process of grieving. And that group was really, really strong about doing certain things: the photo albums, they were putting their own stories around their child, because they feel it in their tummy, that they’re still there.
A counsellor described how they supported a young child who witnessed the suicide of a parent, by writing a story in the child’s mother tongue:
We ended up writing a story, which the family translated into language, about a girl who meets this magpie who explains death to her and explains where her parent is, which is heaven, which is what the family wanted, and then it talks about how she could keep a relationship with the parent even though she’s not here. Then the family came up with some other stories that they decided to tell the child which I think worked really well.