SSAFA launches support group for Forces families affected by suicide
Since January this year, 42 military personnel and veterans are reported to have taken their own lives*. In response to these figures, SSAFA is setting up a new dedicated support service for families and friends affected by the suicide of a loved one in the Forces.
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Earlier this year, SSAFA reported seeing an 11% increase in calls to Forcesline, the charity's free and confidential helpline, from individuals linked to the military who are experiencing negative, sometimes suicidal, thoughts**.
As part of its ongoing commitment to adapt to the needs of the current Armed Forces community, SSAFA recognises that a loved one taking their own life requires a specific type of bereavement support different from that required following a death during conflict or after an accident.
SSAFA's new support group will give individuals the opportunity to share experiences, to get information and advice, and to meet others in the same position. The first group will meet in early 2019 and is open to anyone in the family unit, or friends, who has been affected by this type of loss.
Sir Andrew Gregory, Chief Executive of SSAFA: "It is absolutely correct that a spotlight is being shone onto this issue; the shadow of grief from losing a loved one in this way can last a lifetime. It is a priority for SSAFA to support those left behind if a member of the military community takes their own life. This is as devastating a loss as any other, and it’s our duty to help where we can with the processing of this grief.
"SSAFA will remain on the frontline of support for all members of the Forces family, whenever and however they need us."
To find out more about the support group for military families affected by suicide, click here.
**Statistics related to the first half of 2018 (1 January – 30 June). 14,339 incoming contacts by telephone or email, compared to 12,888 for the same half in 2017. This represents an 11.26% rise in serving personnel, veterans and their families reaching out to SSAFA for help and advice for financial and mental health.
Need to talk?
If you are serving, have served or have family in the Forces and would urgently like to talk to someone about issues related to mental health, suicide or anything else, please call or email one of these helplines:
- SSAFA Forcesline (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm) is a free and confidential telephone helpline and email service that provides support for serving (regulars and reserves) and ex-service men and women from the Armed Forces and for their families. SSAFA Forcesline is not part of the military chain of command and our team is here to listen and not to judge.
Call Forcesline on 0800 731 4880 or email us.
- Combat Stress provides a free helpline to anyone serving or who has served, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Veterans and their families can call 0800 138 1619.
Serving personnel and their families can call 0800 323 4444.
- Samaritans also offer a free round-the-clock telephone helpline: call 116 123 from the UK or ROI.