Our partners JSS release a report on Family perceptions of how Victoria responds to people at risk of suicide and their loved ones


“We were fighting the system as well as the illness.”

Family perceptions of how Victoria responds to people at risk of suicide and their loved ones

In 2019 Support After Suicide conducted a research project looking at how bereaved people and their loved one experienced the mental health system.

In total 142 former and current participants took part in a survey and a further 28 underwent in-depth interviews.


  1. To identify family members’ perception of support provided by Victoria’s mental health system before their loved one died and identify any gaps in that support.
  2. To identify what information, support and inclusion of family members was offered by Victoria’s mental health system so they could provide appropriate care for a person at risk of suicide, and identify any gaps in that support.
  3. To identify what support was provided to family members after the death and any gaps in that support.

The report describes the experiences of participants in their own words and draws a number of findings from the detailed interviews.


“It’s like the family’s there to pick up the pieces, and the family’s there to cop the brunt of bad behaviour when things go wrong, but the family’s not included in any of the services and the discussions”

Some of these findings include:

  • Family members did not know how to navigate the mental health system.
  • Elements of the mental health system did not listen to family members.
  • Family members were often not informed of their loved one’s care, especially in relation to diagnosis, treatment plans or discharge.


The research report makes a number of recommendations which include:

  • Ensuring the outcome of risk assessment results in an appropriate level of care that is also communicated to family members and primary carers.
  • Strengthen community responses to ensure an integrated continuum of care for people at risk of suicide.
  • A review of how confidentiality practices and protocols may be preventing professional staff from providing families with information and guidance on appropriate care.
  • Specialised training for mental health and other health practitioners working with people at risk of suicide to ensure families form part of a holistic and continuing care response team.


The research has been requested and submitted to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System which is due to hand down it’s final report in 2021.

Copies have been sent to the Victorian Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley and Secretary of DHHS, Kym Peake.

Among many others, the report has also gone to the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, the Victorian State Coroner, John Cain and Christine Morgan, CEO of the National Mental Health Commission.

Jesuit Social Services will use the report in ongoing media and advocacy on this subject.

You can view the report by clicking HERE