Support After Suicide has been helping people in Victoria navigate the grief and trauma associated with suicide for more than 15 years. As of February 2021, in a new partnership led by StandBy, Support After Suicide has expanded its grief counselling service into New South Wales.

John, the new program manager in NSW, comes to Jesuit Social Services with over 38 years of bereavement counselling experience.

What John has found through his many years of working in the grief counselling space is that he finds purpose in helping others.

“I want to make a difference and I love working with people. I like to try and help them make sense of things, work with them and support them as best I can.”

When the opportunity came up to lead Support After Suicide as its first NSW Manager, John didn’t have to think hard about applying.

“I’d known about the work down in Victoria for some time and they’ve done an amazing job. When the opportunity came up, I grabbed it with both hands.”

John currently heads up a team of two highly skilled, highly experienced counsellors. The team works out of offices shared with StandBy, often receiving participant referrals through StandBy’s peer support programs.

Until very recently, the NSW Support After Suicide team has conducted their one-on-one counselling sessions over the phone or video call due to COVID-19 restrictions. Since the easing of restrictions, however, John says participants now have the option to meet in person for their sessions.

“We’re still seeing people via phone or Zoom. And those sessions are good. But we can now get on the road to see people in their homes, in a café, or welcome them here at the office.

“We’re happy to meet people wherever they feel most comfortable.”

Looking to 2022, John plans on offering group counselling in addition to one-on-one sessions.

“At the moment, we are doing some family sessions. We might see a sibling of someone who has taken their life along with their parents or we might do an educational session with a school where a student has died through suicide.

“Next year, we’re looking forward to being able to start holding group sessions and we hope to offer these sessions both online and in-person.

“Ultimately, we’re trying to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people as best we can.”