Freemasons Foundation of Victoria provides critical funding for Hope’s Support after Suicide program
Hope Bereavement Care (Hope) would like to acknowledge and thank the Freemasons Foundation of Victoria and the Freemasons of the Bellarine and Otway District, for their ongoing and generous support of our Support After Suicide (SAS) program.
The Freemasons Foundation of Victoria has provided funding to ensure Hope’s Support after Suicide program continues for the rest of the year.
Since it was launched in 2017, Support after Suicide, delivered in partnership with Jesuit Social Services, has provided vital support to more than 200 people in the Geelong region. The program provides grief support to anyone experiencing the loss of a loved one bereaved by suicide; and professionals in the wider community who may be caring for them.
We know that just like people of different cultures and ages have different ways to grieve, men may also have a different experience when they are bereaved.
The Freemasons Foundation of Victoria, an organisation of men supporting their communities, has seen the impact.
Following an initial grant of $15,000 it has, for the past three years, supported Hope with $75,000 funding to assist Support after Suicide in Geelong. A further grant of $50,000 was received in May/June this year to help with the current pressures.
In addition, over that time donations and the proceeds from the SAS annual charity luncheon hosted by Freemasons from the Geelong Bellarine District, has contributed approximately $75,000 in critical funds for Hope.
Since 2017, the Freemasons have contributed more than $200,000 to Hope, which has been instrumental in Hope being able to offer vital services through Support after Suicide.
As well as providing monetary support, Freemasons have also donated their time to assist with events. This has included members from the Geelong and Bellarine area who have also kindly donated to other projects.
Their support this year comes at a crucial time for Hope as we had to cancel our two major fundraising events for the year, the SAS Charity Luncheon and Charity Sports Breakfast, due to COVID-19.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for both adult males and females aged 15- 44 years. Between eight and 10 Australians die by suicide every day and there is an estimated 180 people who attempt suicide on a daily basis, with nearly half hospitalised.
The launch of SAS was made possible through the hard work of a small number of dedicated people and the generous provision of seed funding.
This came from the Bellarine Otway District Freemasons and their continued financial support, as well as additional financial support from the Freemasons Foundation Victoria.
The SAS program offers a range of support services. This includes free bereavement counselling for individuals, couples and families by a qualified bereavement counsellor, either face to face or by phone. It also includes a referral service to specific interventions and programs, support literature, secondary consultation, health promotion and community education. Since its inception, SAS has provided support and counselling to individuals and families across Geelong, Surf Coast and Queenscliff. It has also provided support and education to workplaces and community groups across the region.
The program provides access to support groups for those bereaved by the suicide of a loved one. This includes the After Suicide Loss Support Group which meets monthly. The group provides an opportunity to share experiences and support each other in a safe and confidential environment. A four-week program is also held several times a year, recommended for those who are between three and 24 months bereaved.
In 2019, Hope launched a new Support After Suicide support group, specifically for men.
The Men’s Group provides an opportunity for men to meet and discuss their suicide bereavement experiences, feelings and coping strategies in an all-male environment.
Each year, SAS supports over 100 individuals and facilitates over 30 group sessions. One of these groups is the SAS Men’s Program. More than 40 men have attended the monthly Men’s Program since it started last year.
The Men’s Group is facilitated by Adam Green and Danny Keating who both have lost loved ones to suicide. Behind the scenes they are supported and guided by Hope’s senior bereavement counsellor, Annie Norrish. The group is totally non-judgmental. Attendees range from men who have lost loved ones recently, to those that have lost loved ones many years ago.
This group is essentially for bereaved men to meet other men who have lost a loved one to suicide. Each month the meeting commences with a guest speaker who shares his own thoughts and experiences in life. This provides points for discussion and an opportunity for questions during the remainder of the evening.
Participants are welcome to contribute as much or as little as they choose. Some participants say very little but have acknowledged that they still draw comfort and reassurance that they are not alone in their grief, as well as learning from other people’s experiences and feelings.
The program is modelled on a similar service which has been provided in Melbourne by Jesuit Social Services for a number of years.
Danny says there is an emphasis on stressing to the men’s group attendees that grief following a suicide can be complex and overwhelming and as a bereaved person they may experience a broad range of thoughts and feelings such as sadness, anger, guilt and confusion.
“Suicide grief can be an intense and difficult experience and the group discussions revolve around open dialogue regarding these varied emotions,” he says.
“Men are often reluctant to discuss their inner feelings in mixed company environments and are more likely to be open and frank in all-male forums.”
In 2014, Danny lost his youngest son Sam to suicide.
Sam was 25 years old. A few years prior to his death he divulged that he had been sexually abused by a priest when a primary school student, a pain that he could not shed or cope with. Sam’s death had a profound effect on Danny his wife Robyn and three adult children – Hayley, Shaun and Edwina. A consequence of this was that Danny and Robyn received bereavement counselling and were invited by their counsellor to attend a meeting to discuss the need for a specific suicide bereavement support service to be established in Geelong. This led to the establishment of ‘Support After Suicide’ (SAS) Geelong Region Service.
Danny’s ‘lived experience’ of suicide bereavement exposed he and his family to the unique pain of suicide bereavement and the critical need for local support mechanisms.
Danny understands and is aware that grief following suicide is complex and varied and that people need different kinds of support at different times.
It is a fact that people who have lost loved ones to suicide are statistically more likely to take their own lives than unaffected members off the community. Consequently, suicide bereavement support groups and programs also play an important part in preventing potential suicides.
The range of after suicide support services now available through Hope Bereavement Care, is critically important to suicide bereaved people in the Geelong region. Danny is committed to ensuring their continuance and sustainability.
“It is apparent from the men’s group meetings that some men experiencing grief after suicide feel well supported by family and friends while others feel isolated and misunderstood,” Danny says.
“Reactions can be many and varied and may seem difficult to understand. In these circumstances the group can assist attendees to feel not only supported, but also understood.”
For more information or referral for the Men’s program or to the SAS program email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to https://www.bereavement.org.au/grief-support/support-after-suicide or our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SupportAft
To donate to support the SAS program go to www.givenow.com.au/bpbp