Suicide Bereavement training programmes

About PABBS Suicide Bereavement Training

Authors of the training:

Dr. Sharon McDonnell1, Professor Nav Kapur2, Professor Jenny Shaw2, Professor Carolyn Chew Graham3, Barry McGale1, Shirley Smith4, and Dr. Lis Cordingley2

1 Suicide Bereavement UK
2 University of Manchester
3 University of Keele
4 If U Care Share Foundation 

Aim of the training:

To provide health professionals with an opportunity to build their confidence and skills caring for parents bereaved by suicide.

Summary of the PABBS training:

Postvention - assisting those bereaved by suicideThe development of the PABBS training was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and led by Dr.Sharon McDonnell based at the University of Manchester.  The training is evidence-based theory-driven and has been informed by a three year study which identified the vulnerability and perceived needs of parents bereaved by suicide and health professionals who were responsible for their care.

It is a highly interactive one day workshop and includes a workbook, nine film clips and a 60 page manual for future reference.  Eighteen people are able to attend each workshop.  This training is first of its kind internationally.

Target audience

Originally designed for health professionals, specifically, GPs and mental health professionals, but pilot workshops have revealed it is relevant to a much wider audience.

What competencies do attendees gain?

  • recognise that supporting those bereaved by suicide is a key component of suicide prevention;
  • enable health professionals to increase their knowledge, confidence, skills and provide a framework and service-response plan for immediate and ongoing support for parents bereaved by suicide;
  • increase the need to ensure parents remain engaged with health professionals and services after their child’s death; and
  • encourage health professionals to consider and recognise their own emotional or self-care needs and develop a strategy or support structure that will be available to them if a patient dies by suicide.


How does PABBS training help to address England’s suicide prevention strategy?  (DH, 2012)

  • PABBS training informs and guides attendees how ‘to provide better information and support to those bereaved by suicide’ which is a key priority for the strategy (DH, 2012); and
  • It also focuses on the vulnerabilities and needs of health professionals affected by suicide. This is important as they are also recognised as a vulnerable ‘high risk’ group in the suicide prevention strategy (DH, 2012)


How is the programme quality assured: What evidence is the programme based on?

PABBS training has been informed by the following:

  • three year study funded by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit (Ref: RfPB: PB-PG-0110-21047) which explored the experiences and perceived needs of parents bereaved by suicide and health professionals responsible for their care;
  • conducted detailed analysis on existing postvention training (UK and internationally) to identify best practice as well as possible areas for improvement and development. Particular attention was paid to the evidence base and published evaluations of training interventions and existing suicide bereavement literature;
  • Sharon McDonnell visited postvention experts in Australia, New Zealand and America; and
  • also attended a monthly Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) self-help group for four years (2011-2015).  


About the research team

The research team consists of a suicide bereavement researcher, two psychiatrists who specialise in suicide prevention, one practicing GP, a mental health nurse, a mother bereaved by suicide and a health psychologist who teaches medical students.  Several members of the team have significant experience of developing and delivering evidence-based, theory-driven training. Three members of the team have been bereaved or affected by suicide.

About the Trainers

Each workshop is delivered by two trainers who have considerable knowledge and expertise supporting families bereaved by suicide.

When will PABBS training be available?

March 2017

Publications directly associated with PABBS

Foggin, E. McDonnell, S.  Cordingley, L. Kapur, N.  Shaw, J. Chew-Graham, C (2016) GPs’ experiences of dealing with parents bereaved by suicide: a qualitative study. British Journal of GPs. DOI: 10.3399/bjgp16X686605 View

Reference to PABBS training in Key Public Health Documents

PHE (2016) Support After Suicide, A Guide to Providing Local Services: A Practical Resource (October) page 14  View

PHE (2016) Public Mental Health Promotion and Prevention Training Programme (September) pg 46. View

For more information email Sharon McDonnell or call 01706 827 359


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