Lived Experience of Suicide Bereavement

A lived experience of suicide bereavement is being bereaved and/or impacted by suicide.

People with a lived experience of suicide bereavement bring insight, wisdom, and perspective that is critical to informing best practice approaches in postvention.

StandBy’s lived experience ‘voice’ is ever growing and currently includes:

Workforce Representation

Jo Langford – StandBy National Lived Experience Coordinator

Jo proactively works within the StandBy National team and with StandBy regions across Australia to support, enhance and develop the voice of lived experience across all aspects of the program.

Jo’s Story:

In October 2013, my world changed forever when my husband David died by suicide. I was in the most pain I had ever felt, and one person I would normally lean on for support was the one I was grieving. The only thing that came close to the feelings of pain and loss was the intense and all-consuming loneliness. With three children watching their mum to see what was next, I had to find a way to ensure what was next was going to be a step towards a future that held happiness.

I needed to connect with others who had been widowed and were creating new lives for themselves. I found The Brisbane Young Widows and Widowers Peer Support Group. My fear at the first meeting was huge, unlike the others in the room that day who had lost their spouses because of Cancer, Heart Attack and long-term illnesses, my husband had taken his own life. I feared that the stigma around that would make me unwelcome in the group. I was not ashamed of the way my husband died, I saw him battle his depression for 3 years, accessing help and fighting to live each day until the day he died, however I was unsure if this group of people would understand. They may not have understood his suicide, however they did understand my pain and loss. This group, while allowing me space to feel a part of a collective grief, would also change the direction of my career; I eventually went on to coordinate and in turn became instrumental in my journey towards the wonderful life I now have.

Prior to joining the StandBy team, I worked in the suicide prevention and grief/loss space for 5 years. Before my loss, I worked for many years acting, teaching, directing, and writing. I love to combine my lived experience with my creative skills, I have spoken at many events and written and performed spoken word poetry about my lived experience. I have written a play about suicide postvention and I am currently working to bring the voice of lived experience front and centre across a range of projects for StandBy.

My wonderfully resilient children bring so much joy to my life and our closeness and sense of fun, along with the work I do at StandBy, is an incredible way to honour my husband.

I am passionate about using my lived experience and empowering others bereaved by suicide to recognise the value their voice can have in the suicide postvention and prevention sector.

My goal is to see the voice of lived experience be the norm in all workplaces within the sector.

 

Jo Langford

Lived Experience Workers

Work with their Regional Coordinators to provide lived experience expertise input into service delivery, training delivery and resource development.

Support Team Members

StandBy employs casual support team members to provide face to face outreach support to those impacted and/or bereaved by suicide. Those with a lived experience are encouraged to apply.

Advisory Groups

Inaugural National Lived Experience Advisory Group

The Inaugural National Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG) was established in 2019 to provide valuable lived experience to inform future strategic direction, guide and advise StandBy National and to help champion the StandBy program. LEAG members meet regularly to support special projects and identifying areas of prioritisation for the continuous improvement of the StandBy program. For more information please contact jo.langford@standbysupport.com.au

Regional Advisory Groups

The role of Advisory Group members is important within their organisations and across the networks as they ‘champion’ awareness about suicide related issues and promote uptake of the StandBy program.

During meetings, they assist with knowledge sharing and provide strategic guidance. Coordinators strive to ensure membership of the group includes the voice of lived experience, as well as key stakeholders, and represents the diversity of community members and issues across their regions.

Stories

Story telling is one of the most powerful ways to share the expertise of lived experience. These stories come in many different formats, such as:

  • Speaking at events
  • Social media
  • Mainstream print and TV media
  • Workshops
  • Online videos
  • Panel members
  • Written works

StandBy encourages those with lived experience across Australia to share their story in a safe and supportive way. Please contact Jo Langford for more information on jo.langford@standbysupport.com.au

Expert Advice & Focus Groups

From time to time, and when working on specific projects StandBy utilises those with lived experience to provide specific information and advice.

Our Stories

StandBy acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live. Our staff recognise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community and their continuing connection to land and water, and pay respect to their elders past, present and emerging.

Our organisation is a place where human rights are respected and people of diverse genders and sexual orientation are welcomed and supported.

If you or someone you know is in need of immediate support please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 000.

StandBy – an initiative funded by the Australian Government.
Post Suicide Support – an initiative funded by the NSW Government
StandBy is a program of Youturn Limited.