Evidence- and practice-informed approach to implementing peer grief support after suicide systematically in the USA
Cook, F.J., Langford, L., & Ruocco, K.
The landmark report, Responding to Grief, Trauma, and Distress After a Suicide: U.S. National Guidelines, identifies the suicide bereaved as an underserved population and recommends systematic development of peer grief support to help meet the needs of survivors of suicide loss. A widespread array of peer grief support after suicide (PGSS) services exists nationally, but only as a decentralized network of autonomous programs. Some research indicates that peer support is generally helpful to the suicide bereaved, a finding that is reinforced by a large body of emerging research showing that peer support is effective in mental illness and substance abuse recovery. The practice, study, growth, and refinement of peer support in those fields have generated viable ideas about the elements and principles of effective peer support—for individual practitioners and for programs and organizations—that could be used to guide the systematic implementation of PGSS. In addition, a comprehensive PGSS program (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) that currently serves a large population—survivors of suicide in the military—could be a model for national PGSS systems development. Finally, there are several frameworks for systems development—zero suicide, consumer-operated services, recovery-oriented systems of care, and the consumer action research model—that could guide the expansion and increased effectiveness of PGSS in keeping with the Guidelines’ recommendation.