A new Lowestoft support group for people who have been bereaved by suicide has been launched by Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS)
The Lowestoft SOBS group is the third in Suffolk (joining Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich). Suffolk is believed to be the first county in the country to have three such groups.
SOBS was launched in 1991 and provides free and indefinite support those people bereaved by suicide. Each year in the UK, more than 6,000 people take their own life – each suicide has a devastating and lasting impact on their families, friends and communities.
The launch event heard the touching personal testimonies of people who have been bereaved by suicide. Darren, from Suffolk, spoke of his struggles after he was the one to find his mother at home after she had taken her own life.
"I was trying to be strong for everybody and that was to be my downfall. I was suffering flashbacks, I had nightmares, I lost my appetite, and I had problems with anger. It changed when I saw a poster for SOBS in a waiting room at the West Suffolk Hospital and I got in touch. It was such a relief, I couldn't really talk to my wife, or my friends. SOBS made a huge difference for me. It's been a long journey but without SOBS I'd still be struggling now".
Faced with a sudden, often unexpected and sometimes violent death, the bereaved experience a complex grief that typically includes strong feelings of guilt, self-reproach and questioning. Those bereaved by suicide often feel isolated at a time when they are hurting, suffering mental anguish and are vulnerable themselves to thoughts of suicide.
Suzy Clifford, SOBS co-ordinator, said: "This is the first time in the UK that we have had, in one county, a network of groups for survivors to access. Today we have been touched by the tragic true life stories that survivors have told. We are looking forward to developing a relationship with all the agencies here today."
Even those fortunate enough to have strong support networks can still feel alone, unable to share their true feelings for fear of their impact on others, particularly when they are also in a caring role for others who are bereaved. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who have been deeply affected by suicide. The emotional, quality of life and financial impacts are long lasting and wide reaching.
The launch on Tuesday 14 October at Orbis Energy was supported by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney (HealthEast), Suffolk Coroner's Office, Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Constabulary and British Transport Police.
Pictured at the launch of Lowestoft SOBS at Orbis Energy: left to right, SOBS co-ordinator Suzy Clifford and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Chairman Gary Page.