Forefront advances innovative approaches to suicide prevention through policy change, professional training, campus- and school-based interventions, media outreach, and support for persons affected by suicide. Safe Crossings Foundation is funding the Forefront Cares program which was launched in 2013 to provides unique, timely and personalized outreach and peer support to individuals who are suffering the loss of a loved one to suicide. The grant will address the needs of children and youth who lose a parent or sibling in this manner.
Forefront Care’s personalized services includes peer-to-peer phone mentoring/support for those newly bereaved by suicide as well as care package delivery to let individuals and families know that there is a community out there that understands and supports them. Phone support is offered by peers who have been through the loss of a loved one to suicide as well. Care packages are sent to individuals and families referred to Forefront by first-responders, funeral homes, faith community leaders, or family and friends. These packages include books about coping with grief after a suicide death and items of comfort such as tissues, candles, tea and writing journals. They also offer survivors the opportunity to be paired with a trained volunteer who has experienced a similar loss. Usually the best – and sometimes the only – person a suicide survivor can talk to is someone who’s already been through it. The volunteer provides short-term phone support to the newly bereaved survivor. It is a therapeutic and healing bond for both the volunteer and the grieving person.
“This was a whole new world. Having someone to talk to made me feel less alone. My mentor taught me what signs to look for and to ask my kids about their grief. She taught me to be direct and that we don’t have to rescue anyone. It feels like a lifeline. We are tethered.” ~Forefront Cares support recipient
In 2014, Forefront created a child-focused care package (with age-appropriate books and comfort items) and expanded their services to include peer phone support that helps grieving parents know how to respond to the loss their child or teen is feeling. They also provide families with information about other helpful resources in their area, such as local bereavement camp programs and grief groups. All Forefront Cares services are provided at no charge to families. They will ensure Safe Crossings Foundation funds help underwrite the cost of providing these services to grieving children and teens during 2017, including marketing the program within schools and rural communities already receiving suicide prevention training and support from Forefront. With Forefront’s deep involvement in 14 King County high schools, expansion to six rural Washington communities, outreach to those working in grief care and their well-developed relationships with media across the state, they hope to spread the word about this new and highly important effort.
SCF’s Marci sat down to chat with Susan and Annalee, a mother and daughter who lost a son and brother to suicide, about their experience after his death; the unique grief that follows; and what has helped them on their paths toward healing, to include their experience with Forefront.
For more information, please call Forefront at 206.543.1016.