Support groups can be a valuable aid for those bereaved by suicide, whether it is a group of peers or a group facilitated by a health care professional.
This is a group where all the members are bereaved. There may be a meeting co-ordinator (e.g. someone who books locations and sends out meeting information) however no professional advice is offered. Generally, a group of members will gather at an agreed location at a regular time and talk about their experiences. They can offer their own experience and thoughts as advice to others in similar situations. These groups can be beneficial in that they provide a forum where members can speak honestly and openly with others who understand.
This is a group that has a designated facilitator. The facilitator is generally a health professional with a background or training in support groups. A facilitator provides structure to group conversation and maintains a neutral position. They may or may not have a lived experience of suicide bereavement. Their focus is on both the process of having a meeting and the suitability of the content of the discussion. Some facilitators may work on a voluntary basis, others may charge a fee to the group.
An open group allows and all attendees to come to the group without any formal process. Some open groups may find that they have large numbers in attendance one meeting and no attendance at the next. There is no RSVP required and some members may have attended several times while others may be new.
A closed group limits or screens members. Members of some closed groups agree to meet regularly for a period of time and then ‘re-open’ for new members. This allows bonds to form between members of the group. Members may wish to then provide each other support outside of the group and some maintain close friendships after the group has finished.