Thanks to MESHA donors, work is underway to develop a national framework for vital postvention* support to the families of defence and emergency personnel.
Our passionate team is working to develop a suite of resources to assist families and co-workers in dealing with the after-effects of suicide of a loved one.
MESHA’s Senior Research Officer, Dr Henry Bowen, said while the ongoing Royal Commission into veteran suicide has focussed on suicide prevention and intervention, postvention is a secondary focus.
“This is particularly concerning given that suicide risk is heightened when a person is exposed to or bereaved by suicide,’’ Dr Bowen said.
The MESHA team has reviewed literature and the experiences and perceptions of bereaved family members of emergency service first responders and military personnel.
“However, the real crux of this project is making sure that the emergency services families and peers don’t get lost,’’ Dr Bowen said.
The Northern Territory lost three current and former serving police to suicide in three months in 20, with South Australia facing similar numbers over the 2021 Christmas period, including a South Australian Corrections Officer, a South Australian Paramedic, and an Australian Federal Police officer based in SA.
Dr Bowen said the postvention framework was a massive but necessary undertaking.
“Most people don’t realise that every state and territory in Australia has their own emergency services which have their own policies and organisational structures that need to be considered, so when we make national recommendations and practice guidelines, there needs to be a breakdown on a state-by-state level,’’ Dr Bowen said.
“It’s hard work, but it’s work worth doing.”
Dr Bowen said the first priority aims to develop evidence-based resources for families and co-workers who may be impacted by or involved with a military or emergency services personnel’s death by suicide.
The second priority will be about pursuing policy changes and systemic changes within organisational systems.
This postvention study will continue into 2023 with the aim to complete it by mid-2024.
*Postvention is the support conducted after the loss of a loved one from suicide.