AYRSHIRE and Arran has been chosen as one of only two areas to be included in a pilot project that aims to support families bereaved by suicide and help prevent others from taking their own lives.

Scotland’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) has been given £510,000 from the Scottish Government for the pilot service which will provide practical and emotional support to families who have lost a loved one to suicide, for up to two years.

The service is also intended to help reduce suicide, as evidence shows that up to 10 per cent of people bereaved by suicide may go on to attempt to take their own lives.

The new service will run seven days a week; it will make initial contact with bereaved families within 24 hours of a referral and specially trained bereavement support workers will provide customised support relevant to each family’s circumstances.

Staff will be able to recognise potential risks or wider safeguarding issues, including signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation and will also be able to work collaboratively across other local services.

Together, this joined-up approach will ensure a package of support is offered to families during this extremely difficult time.

The service will be independently reviewed to learn how best to support families bereaved by suicide.

The evaluation will also help inform future planning of bereavement support services.

Nicola Rylatt lost her husband to suicide and is a member of NSPLG’s Lived Experience Panel. Nicola said: “Dealing with a bereavement from suicide can be scary and lonely; with so many unanswered questions so having effective support for those grieving in these circumstances is vitally important to protect the mental health of the bereaved, together with providing judgement free resources to work through all aspects of their loss.”

Penumbra and Support in Mind Scotland already support about 3,300 people every week, and have experience of working in projects such as the Scottish Government’s Distress Brief Intervention Programme (DBI) and Edinburgh’s Thrive initiative.

The pilot scheme is set to run before the end of the year in Ayrshire and Arran.