About the Program
The Survivor of Suicide Loss Support Program began in 1979 as the first service of its kind in Canada for those experiencing loss due to suicide and/or homicide. Trained and supervised lay counselors, 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 suicide. 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.
Lay counselors 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.
We offer peer-based face-to-face grief support for individuals and families dealing with suicide and 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.
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 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 Community Outreach Program offers information, skills training, 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 death by suicide/homicide.
The Suicide Resource Centre is available to students, caregivers, survivors and volunteers wanting more information about this special trauma. A lending library is available in person for requesting and there are many articles and resources available for free on our website's Resource Library.
For more information or self-referral to the program contact Alex Shendelman at 416-595-1716 or by email Alex@torontodistresscentre.com.
FAQ’s on Survivor of Suicide Loss or Homicide Loss Support Program
- Understanding grief, and unique aspects of grieving a sudden, violent death
- Challenging emotional reactions - anger and guilt
- How to support survivors in face-to-face encounters; practicing our skills in interactive situations
- Suicide risk assessment