Suicide postvention is a very important part of suicide prevention. Effective postvention support can help identify and potentially prevent additional people with suicide ideation.
The evidence in the research literature is consistent that family members of individuals who die by suicide – including parents, children, and siblings – are at a greater increased risk of suicide themselves. The risk is real.
This is why postvention is very important in the context of a suicide death. Postvention is generally understood to be the intervention after a suicide. It involves grief support, education, and counseling, among other things to aid the bereaved.
The aim is to support and debrief those affected; and reduce the possibility of additional suicide deaths. Many evidence-based interventions recognize those bereaved by suicide may be susceptible to suicidal behavior and may develop complicated grief reactions.
The term “postvention” is said to be attributed to Edwin Shneidman in 1968 at the first conference of the American Association of Suicidology. Shneidman is known to have defined postvention as follows: interventions to address the care of bereaved survivors, caregivers, and health care providers; to destigmatize the tragedy of suicide and to assist with the recovering process; and to serve as a secondary prevention effort to minimize the risk of subsequent suicides due to complicated grief, contagion, or unresolved trauma (Shneidman, 1975).