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Extra support for families affected by suicide

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has appointed a specialist Family Liaison Officer to increase the support provided to people who have been bereaved by suicide.

Jenni Carvey will work across both counties, offering a listening ear to families, answering their questions, supporting them through the inquest and signposting them to charities and other groups which could help.

The role is brand new at NSFT, and comes as part of the Trust’s commitment to reducing suicides while also providing better support to loved ones after someone has taken their own life.

Jenni brings extensive knowledge to the post after previously working as an Occupational Therapist supporting end-of-life patients and their families in north Norfolk. She also has personal experience of dealing with trauma following the murder of her long-term partner 13 years ago.

“I want to use my own experience of going through a traumatic grieving process to help others who have suffered a sudden loss,” said Jenni, who began her career in mental health. “I understand the way they are feeling and some of the anxieties they may be facing as I know what it is like for someone you love to be there one minute and gone the next.

“I also regularly had difficult conversations with the families of palliative care patients in my previous job, so appreciate just how important it is to approach people with empathy and understanding.”

Jenni will offer support to families where the person who has taken their own life is an NSFT service user, on the Trust’s waiting lists or has been discharged within the last six months. That support will continue for as long as the family wishes, including throughout the investigation and inquest process.

“I will be a dedicated point of contact who will get to know families, can answer their questions, sit and listen to their concerns or signpost them on to counselling services or further support, depending on their individual needs,” added Jenni. “I am looking forward to getting started and really hope that I can make a difference and have a positive impact at what is an incredibly difficult time for those left behind.

“The Trust is really determined to get this right. Suicide is already incredibly traumatic for the family, so making sure families are given the right support afterwards is vital.”

NSFT has placed an increased focus on suicide since 2017, when its Suicide Prevention Strategy was launched. It has seen a variety of educational events take place to target the groups most at risk, while specific training has also been rolled out to staff to raise awareness of the needs of carers.

The Trust has also joined the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA), which is a coalition of NHS organisations, emergency services, councils, charities, large employers and community groups who all support the ambition of creating a world where suicide does not exist.

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