Experiencing a loss can be traumatic and going through grief can be unpredictable and overwhelming without the proper support. The primary objective of this post is to shed some light on what postvention is and how it can be used as a preventative model for individuals who may be at high risk after being exposed to suicide. Postvention is best defined as providing assistance to individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide. The primary goals of postvention services are to provide emotional support and healing, as well as education and guidance to help reduce the negative effects of suicide exposure. Postvention services also help individuals with their grief process. In order for postvention services to be most effective, they must be implemented ahead of time in anticipation of a potential future crisis. It is also critical that information about available services be made accessible to the community where the services are provided. Postvention plans can be developed at the community, city, or county levels, as well as in schools and workplaces.
As we approach September, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we want to remind our loved ones, such as family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and members of our communities, that help is available and they are not alone. While some may be afraid to share their stories and avoid seeking help, knowing that there are services and resources available to them provided by people who care, are willing to listen, and want to help them can make all the difference. The life of an individual can be impacted positively by providing a safe space where they are not judged and are emotionally supported. Encouraging your loved ones to seek prevention or postvention services, when necessary, is the essence of how you can help them in their time of need.
It is important to remember that humans, like the stories that formed the history we know today, have a story that shapes them into who they are. Listening to someone’s story is one of the most important things you can do when attempting to help. No one knows the context of a story better than the person telling it. It is also necessary to be empathetic, patient, and mindful. Remember that while there are five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), no two people will experience their grief in the same way or in the same order. Many communities have a lot to offer, and we can raise awareness by spreading the word and educating together. We can all learn from one another and improve our understanding of suicide prevention by providing services, resources, and showing individuals that they are important and that you care. Individuals can learn coping skills, gain a better understanding of their emotions, and strengthen their resilience through postvention services and resources.
According to the Westchester Suicide Prevention Task Force website (
westchestersuicidesafety.org), Westchester County embarked on a mission to raise awareness, reduce the stigma associated with suicide, and implement and support suicide prevention programs in response to an increase in suicide fatality rates. Their vision was simple, but achieving it would be difficult without the proper support in efforts to reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts, as well as alleviate the trauma that could be left behind for a loved one who has lost someone due to suicide. As a result, the Westchester County Suicide Prevention and Awareness Task Force was formed in 2015 to coordinate Suicide Awareness, Prevention, and Training strategies throughout the county. The task force is made up of many stakeholders, including not-for-profit organizations. One of these organizations is the Mental Health Association of Westchester (MHA). At MHA we provide a variety of services, one of which is postvention. Thanks to a generous donor, MHA was able to create the role of Postvention Support Specialist that I hold today in 2022. Among the services provided are emotional support, referrals to various resources, and education to normalize the grief reactions associated with suicide loss. The services are provided at no cost to referred staff, clients, and members of the community. If you are interested in postvention services, don’t hesitate to contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to learn more about the other services MHA provides, please visit our website at
Additional Suicide Prevention Resource: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
If your life or someone else’s is in imminent danger, please call
911. If you are in crisis and need immediate help, please call:
1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text Got5 to 741741
. As of July 16th, 2022 you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline via phone, text, or chat at
988. The previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will always remain available. Services are available 24/7.