A NEW group for survivors of bereavement by suicide (SOBS) is planning its first meeting next week.

SOBS York is led by volunteers and will launch on Wednesday, September 19 at 7pm in St Paul's Church cafe, Holgate Road, with further sessions on the third Wednesday of every month at 7pm.

SOBS groups aim to bring together people who have lost loved ones to suicide and help them overcome the isolation experienced by bereavement.

SOBS is a national charity providing dedicated support to adults who have been bereaved by suicide.  It currently has around 150 volunteers across the UK who help to run services – and the charity continues to grow.  Volunteers come from all walks of life but nearly all have been touched by suicide themselves, this experience enables them to connect with others. 

On World Suicide Prevention Day today, Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for health and adult social care, thanked those involved in setting it up.

“I would like to thank all those volunteers involved for their work in setting up this group which can provide invaluable support for those bereaved by suicide. The loss of a loved one through suicide can have a devastating impact. It is important that those bereaved in this way have a safe space to meet others with similar experiences and help each other, rather than suffer alone. I give this group my full support.”

Alex Sutcliffe, from SOBS York, said: “We are hugely grateful to City of York Council for its support helping us to establish SOBS York.

Being bereaved by suicide at the age of 14, it has always stayed with me that there was no help that we knew of back in the 1980s. I am immensely proud to be able to set up this local group with two friends, also bereaved by suicide, to help those suffering. In this safe space, people bereaved in this way can meet others informally, have a coffee and share their feelings and experiences.”

All are welcome to attend the group.

For details visit https://uksobs.org/about/who-we-are/ or email sobs.support@hotmail.com or call its helpline from 9am to 9pm on 0300 111 5065.

The theme of World Suicide Day this year is 'working together to prevent suicide'.

An NSPCC spokesman said: “It is a tragic fact that each day Childline hears from around 60 children and young people who have contemplated suicide.

“It is vital that they know they have somewhere to turn and that someone will listen and let them know their lives are worth living.”

Children and young people with any worries can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or www.childline.org.uk.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among people aged from 20 to 34, and men are nearly three times as likely as women to die as a result of suicide, but the female suicide rate in England is at its highest since 2005.

On Thursday, September 20, York is hosting a suicide prevention conference at York Sports Club, Shipton Road.

As well as a range of workshops there will be a number of thought provoking speeches from people that have been affected by suicide. Topics will include; lived experience, clinical expertise and support for the bereaved, our draft suicide prevention strategy and much more.

To book your place at this free event please visit https://york.learningpool.com, email wdu@york.gov.uk or call 01904 553017.

Lindsay Shelbourn, public health lead for mental health and suicide prevention at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “Suicide is preventable, we want to encourage as many people as possible to take the training and get involved, we can all work together to prevent suicide.”

The organisations taking part in the World Suicide Prevention Day partnership will be encouraging staff within their respective organisations to undertake the Zero Suicide Alliance training at www.zerosuicidealliance.co.uk

World Suicide Prevention Day takes place on one day, but the effects of suicidal feelings can happen at any time to anyone.

Suicide can be prevented and avoided if support is available.

Below are five things that, according to research, can help to boost mental wellbeing:

Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships. Learn more in Connect for mental wellbeing.

Be active – you don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. Learn more in Get active for mental wellbeing.

Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? Find out more in Learn for mental wellbeing.

Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks. Learn more in Give for mental wellbeing.

Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Learn more in Mindfulness for mental wellbeing.