Postvention Australia is a newly formed not-for-profit organisation designed to prevent suicide through supporting and helping people who are left behind after a suicide takes place. It originated from accumulating evidence that this is a neglected area of suicide prevention: people bereaved through suicide are up to six times more likely to take their life than the general population. The Board consists of some of Australia’s leading experts in suicide prevention and postvention as well as bereaved representatives. Professor Ian Webster AO at the NSW Parliament House launched the organisation in June 2013.
Postvention Australia – the National Association for the Bereaved by Suicide – is recognised by and registered with the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) as Australia’s peak body in suicide bereavement with its programs operating nationally throughout all the states of Australia.
Postvention Australia also has strong links with the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) at Griffith University, Queensland.
Over 2,500* people take their lives each year in Australia.
The consequences are immense.
For each suicide at least six people close to the person who died are left severely grieving. This means at least 15,000 people are newly bereaved by the suicide of someone close to them each year, and around 60,000 are struggling with grief at any one time in Australia, considering the longevity of suicide grief.
To lose someone close by suicide commonly results in intense emotional trauma, shock, grief, guilt, physical and mental ill health and adverse social consequences. Information and support have been demonstrated to be important in helping the bereaved survive through the pain of grief. As a widow said to one of the Board recently, “I went to the group for many years, being very selfish, only to keep myself alive.” However, recent research has demonstrated that although Commonwealth and other initiatives have developed some valuable postvention interventions and resources, getting help and information is still a haphazard process as there no clear pathway to help.
Postvention Australia’s vision is to reduce the impact of suicide by establishing a network that provides best practice postvention information and services, holistic, physical, emotional and spiritual support, comfort and understanding for the health and well-being of all Australians affected by a suicide death.
Our mission is to build a strong suicide postvention sector that prevents suicide and minimises harm by supporting all people affected by a suicide death and those who support them. We will achieve this through:
- Making available clear pathways to support for all those affected by a suicide death
- Promoting best practice information, education and research about suicide postvention in the public arena
- Assisting individuals, communities, volunteers, service providers, educators, researchers, media, and government and other bodies to support those bereaved through the provision of information and networking and education
- Creating cultural change in de-stigmatising suicide death and raising public awareness of ways to support for the bereaved
Sydney-based Australian founder, Alan Staines, OAM, OF (Envoy) has played a pivotal role in the recognition and development of Postvention Services in Australia for over 30 years. He was the Founder and Director of Hope for Life, the Salvation Army’s Suicide Prevention Bereavement Support Services from 2006 up to June 2013 and was a driving force behind the establishment of the Salvation Army’s suicide bereavement services.
In 2003, in recognition of Alan’s perseverance and tireless efforts in suicide prevention, he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to young people through Suicide Prevention Australia and the Salvation Army. In 2004, he was honoured with Life Membership of Suicide Prevention Australia. In 2007, Alan received the Order of the Founder (OF), the highest Salvation Army honour for distinguished service.
Postvention Australia was officially launched in June 2013 at NSW Parliament House, Sydney by the then NSW Minister for Health, the Hon. Kevin Humphries. Professor Ian Webster AO, Emeritus Professor of Community Medicine and Public Health, UNSW and Chair, Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council was present and addressed the meeting. Professor Diego De Leo AO, DSc, MD, PhD, FRANZCP, Professor of Psychiatry – Griffith University, as the Chair of Postvention Australia, extended the welcome and introduced all the Board members.
The organisation’s national office is currently in Sydney. However, Postvention Australia’s Board members and supporters are from across Australia. Via this national linkage and through this website, we operate as a national organisation.
Postvention Australia gratefully acknowledges the work of Dr Sheila Clark during initial design and planning, Jamy Somerville, Alan Staines and the Postvention Australia Website Committee for their contribution to the development and release of this resource.