The Survivor Support Program began in 1979 as the first service of its kind in Canada for those experiencing loss due to homicide. Trained and supervised grief facilitators, survivors and staff have combined their skills and insights in an effort to create a safe, caring environment from which to explore the aftermath of homicide. The carefully selected responders are prepared to deal in a sensitive and realistic way with the emotional issues and problems left behind by suicide and/or homicide. They are aware of the full range of normal and complicated grief reactions that survivors may experience.

By helping individuals define their situations and acknowledge their emotions, the support process leads survivors to a consideration of what normal grieving is under these circumstances, the meaning of a sudden violent death, and a sense of how they can manage.



We offer peer-based face-to-face grief support for individuals and families dealing with homicide bereavement, fully accessible to all. 

Both individualized and group supports are offered. 

Our volunteers create a semi-structured, safe place in which survivors can identify, explore and clarify their thoughts and feelings.



Our volunteer grief facilitators consist of survivors and non-survivors who receive extensive screening and training.  

Those with the experience of suicide and/or homicide loss are now at a point where they can give support back to other survivors.  

Those without the experience of suicide and/or homicide loss bring a rich and diverse background in a variety of social support environments.

Please note in this role you will support both homicide and suicide loss survivors.



We are also interested in supporting other community groups, both professional and non-professional, that wish to learn more about the unique problems faced by survivors of sudden, violent death.

Our team offers information, skills training, speakers and consultation on request. We provide information packages and custom workshops. On-site facilitation is also available to agencies, residents and other groups in the immediate aftermath of a loss by suicide or homicide.


Program Lead

Alex is our Suicide Loss & Homicide Loss Survivor Support Programs Lead for Distress Centres. A survivor of suicide loss himself, Alex has spent the last thirteen years building a community of support for those who have experienced a similar loss. He has spoken on a variety of topics pertaining to suicide and homicide loss as well as mental health for a wide range of highly acclaimed and grassroots organizations. As personable as he is knowledgeable, Alex is personally invested in helping each program member find their personal pathway forward.

For more information or self-referral to the program contact Alex at 416-595-1716 or by email


Our outputs - comparable to other charities

Distress Centres is not aware of any other charities based in the GTA that are offering a comparable service at this time. Please contact us at 416-595-1716 to learn more about our unique programming.  

Our outputs - timeline

The programs run on an eight-week session basis which are scheduled throughout the year.

Our output - goals

Through varied helping outputs, our goal is to assist 450 members of our community annually through the menu of support options provided by the Survivor Support Program.

Our output - definitions and calculations

The outputs for the Survivor Support Program are defined as the number of individuals supported at an introductory support session; any additional individuals supported in face-to-face meetings; individuals supported in a group setting; and individuals (survivors, community members or professionals) offered resources and support by phone but not necessarily attending a face-to-face bereavement program.

Our outcomes - mentioned (matching comparables listed below)

  • Individuals attending face-to-face support sessions are offered eight meetings with two volunteer grief facilitators (at least one peer)
  • Individuals waiting for support receive a follow-up call after two weeks
  • When a follow-up call is made, all individuals are offered additional resources
  • All individuals attending the program are offered group supports
  • Individual sessions are offered in a timely manner (within one month)
  • Individuals attending sessions are satisfied with the results
  • Individuals happy with program format
  • Individual expectations met by program
  • Individuals felt the program has a lasting impact

Our outcomes - quantified

In 2016 suicide support participants decreased slightly while homicide support increased by 31%. The amount of service provided reflects both the number of community incidents in any given year and the extent of community outreach to referring agencies.


Further outcomes quantified

  • Increased number of requests for information.
  • Increased number of survivor contacts and participants into the program.
  • 86% of clients indicated increased understanding and improved coping. 
  • 93% of clients indicated satisfaction or better with support received. 
  • More than one-half of participants expressed interest in the volunteer program. 
  • All referral sources expressed positive feedback and interest in continuing to refer. 


Our outcomes - comparable to other charities

Distress Centres is not aware of any other charities based in the GTA that are offering a comparable service at this time. Please contact us at 416-595-1716 to learn more about our unique programming.  

Our outcomes - definitions and calculations

"Satisfaction" in our survey is defined as happy withformat; expectations met; and lasting impact. This was calculated as a percentage of the program users responding to the end-of-program evaluations.

"Timeliness" is defined as the waiting period from the initial meeting totime of match with volunteer team and averaged across all program users for the year.

"Group supports" are defined as the offer of a group to each programuser by letter.

Interim support and resources are offered to each participant while they are waiting, starting two weeks into their wait.


Our goals are to:

  1. Provide satisfactory and timely support to individuals and families living in the aftermath of a suicide or a homicide in a face-to-face, peer-based format.

  2. Provide seasonal group support and interim support and resources while program users are waiting.