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Representing and supporting the experience of life after suicide

Our work

Lived experience of life after suicide underpins our work as a not-for-profit community interest organisation. We are a young organisation with over 10 years of expertise in the field.

We produce and share written and spoken word content from personal perspectives of suicide to validate and advocate for the experiences of those affected, encourage awareness and highlight areas for change.

We also work with organisations responding to suicide

We understand how challenging and difficult it can be for organisations to plan for and respond to incidences of suicide affecting employees or people they support or represent in another capacity.

Working with organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, to include professional bodies, wellbeing providers and charities, we help them to connect with people’s experiences of suicide on a human, compassionate and informed level.

Lived experience suicide bereavement and impact awareness training
We deliver co-produced training programmes, tailored to the requirements of the organisation or sector, to help them better-understand the needs of those affected by suicide, to encourage awareness and to plan and provide appropriate and timely support thereafter, which we can also assist with. Sessions can be designed to complement existing organisational policies/processes and evidence-based/clinical training.

Our training is unique in that it is based around lived experience, supported by appropriate evidence and best practice, which we believe is fundamental in supporting those bereaved or impacted by suicide.

Suicide is indiscriminate and can affect any organisation. Therefore our training is aimed at any organisation and not just those in the health sector.

Professional peer support after suicide
We offer one-to-one and small group peer support sessions facilitated by trained and experienced practitioner Ellie Hatto for those bereaved or impacted by suicide, whether linked to the workplace or in a personal capacity.

We are firm believers in the power of peer support from the unique perspective of shared experience of suicide. In peer support, everyone’s views and experiences are equally valued, rather than anyone being seen as more of an expert than others. It’s a safe place for people to open up about what they are feeling and experiencing from a place of mutual understanding and shared, first-hand experience of suicide.

Peer support is becoming increasingly recognised and respected as a beneficial “self-supported intervention” within the NHS and other healthcare and support service providers. It can be offered in addition to other, clinical-based forms of support.

For further information please see our Peer Support Practitioner Information Sheet here.

Helping organisations prepare for and manage suicide
We help create complementary company HR and wellbeing policies and processes to best-support employees who experience suicide and assist with suicide prevention strategies. We also work with organisations in the planning and delivery of appropriate internal and external communications around incidences of suicide based around best practice, the needs and wishes of those affected and managing further suicide risk.

Please email us to discuss how we can support you: [email protected]

If you need urgent support for you or someone else at immediate risk of harm, you can find a list of useful organisations to contact here.

For general support and resources following suicide, please visit the Support After Suicide Partnership website here.

Why we do it

As trusted experts by experience, it is our mission to represent and support individuals and organisations bereaved or impacted by suicide. It is our vision to increase awareness of the needs of people bereaved or impacted by suicide and treat them with the care and compassion they deserve.

We are built on lived experience; personal and collective knowledge gained through direct, first-hand experience of bereavement or impact following suicide.

What we know
6,000 people take their own life in the UK every year, resulting in an estimated 15 to 30 people (90,000 to 180,000 in total) who are severely affected by each death, including immediate and extended family members, friends, colleagues, peers and strangers. In total, it is estimated that up to 135 people are affected in some way by each and every suicide (Cerel et al., 2018).

The cost to the economy is predicted to be £1.7m for each person who dies by suicide (Department of Health and Social Care, 2017) and those bereaved are 80% more likely to drop out of work or education (University College London, 2016).

Bereavement by suicide can be particularly painful, traumatic and complex given its sudden nature and the intense emotions and lifelong needs that often accompany it. However, the understanding and support that people need after the event is not always available or appropriate.

People bereaved by suicide are 65% more likely to attempt to take their own life if their loved one died by suicide (University College London, 2016). Therefore, the support we offer can also play an important role in suicide prevention, which we feel should be on everyone’s agenda.

Our approach
We believe that people bereaved by suicide should be treated with the same compassion as people bereaved by any other cause. Suicide is indiscriminate and complex and there is often no simple explanation for why someone takes their own life.

The same, but different
We know is that each experience of suicide is different, but we believe that awareness and acknowledgement of shared experiences can unite people and provide the basis for understanding and targeted support.

Red heard carved into trunk of a tree

Our people

From our founder and CEO, Ellie Hatto:

“I created Beside Yourself after many years spent being involved in various suicide bereavement support, prevention and postvention (action taken to provide support after someone dies by suicide) roles and projects alongside not-for-profit organisations, local authorities, public health teams, the NHS and police, amongst others.

What compelled me to get involved in this work was the death of my 82-year-old dad to suicide in 2013, when my life was suddenly turned upside down.

I found solace and understanding in peer support and quickly became an enthusiastic advocate of open and honest communication about my experience of suicide as a way to express my thoughts and feelings and connect deeply with others in a similar position.

I have since come to accept the way in which my dad died, but realise suicide is a life-lasting experience and despite my feelings about it changing over time, many remain, as does the shock and disbelief that it happened at all.

Through ongoing and meaningful interaction with fellow suicide bereaved and impacted people, I have gained a deeper understanding of the experiences we share and the challenges we face, the “gold dust” that is lived experience and how powerful and crucial it is in supporting individuals and organisations alike.

Despite the challenging subject area, I don’t find the work difficult in the way some people assume it must be, because it feels comfortable, emanating from a place of truth and unshakeable authenticity. It is enjoyable work that I hope resonates with people who support our approach and find it as important and interesting as we do. It’s a privilege to represent people bereaved and impacted by suicide and I feel lucky to be in a position to do it.

It’s a life’s work and one that I find thoroughly rewarding as I know first-hand the real difference it makes to people, many of whom have experienced the unthinkable.”

Ellie’s other work:
– Volunteer support group facilitator for charity Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SoBS) since 2017 and former vice chair on the board of trustees
– Co-founder member of Voices – People with Living Experience of Suicide, facilitated by Hampshire County Council
– Non-executive director of Luna Foundation CIC, whose mission is to transform the way children and young people are supported after suicide bereavement
– Qualified, freelance Suicide First Aid associate trainer (created and licensed by NCSPET) and orange button suicide prevention scheme participant
– Former Suicide Prevention Project Manager for Southampton City Council
– Member of the Sounddelivery Media spokesperson programme network 2023

Non-executive director, Cassy Goring

Cassy joined Beside Yourself in September 2023. Like Ellie, she is personally bereaved by suicide and on a similar journey in supporting others through mutual lived experience. She is a firm believer that good postvention support can help people grieve and recover and can be a critical element in preventing further suicides.

Our aims and values

  • Valuing and celebrating lived experience as a powerful, respected and positive force
  • Advocating and providing a voice for those bereaved or impacted by suicide
  • Talking openly and honestly about suicide
  • Sharing, informing and educating on the experience of life after suicide
  • Promoting engagement, awareness, empowerment, growth and hope
  • Exposing and challenging causes of unfair or poor treatment of those bereaved or impacted by suicide
  • Tackling assumptions, stigma and misinformation around suicide
  • Supporting the prevention and reduction of suicide
  • Supporting decision/change makers to identify, acknowledge and consider the needs of those bereaved or impacted by suicide when designing support services
Woman's holding a drawing of a smiling mouth up to her face on a white piece of card

Get in touch

If you’d like to work with us or get in touch about anything else, please email [email protected].

If you would like to support our ongoing work representing people bereaved or impacted by suicide in the community by making a donation, please click here.

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