Every suicide is tragic, leaving a devastating impact on the family, relatives and friends of the person who died, and is often felt across the local community.

Care and Support After Suicide (CASAS), is a specialist suicide bereavement support group, established and run by people who have experienced the loss of a loved one to suicide. CASAS provides a relaxed, informal environment, where people can share their feelings and experiences in a non-judgemental and confidential environment, with the aim to help people better understand and manage their feelings and to improve their quality of life.

The group was established and is facilitated by Gravesham Councillor, Diane Morton, who is also a Registered Mental Health Nurse and trained Counsellor. She lost her own father to suicide when she was 19 and it has had a lasting impact over the years. Diane said: “This is something I am truly passionate about. Suicide leaves many more people struggling with their own mental health and I know CASAS will help  provide some much-needed support”.

After two pilot meetings, CASAS was officially opened last Thursday by retired GP and Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, Dr. Bhargawa Vasudaven (known locally in Gravesend as ‘Vasu’), on behalf of Our Lord Lieutenant of Kent Lady Colgrain. Vasu has, for many years, actively been helping to get better and faster access to health services. Serving for 15 years, he was one of the first medical advisors/trustee of the Kent Air Ambulance and a former CEO of the White Horse walk in Medical Centre in Northfleet. Vasu knows only too well the impact suicide has on those who were close. He said, “Many who have lost a loved one years ago are still struggling to manage their feelings – this a vital service for our community and wonderful to see it is easy to access without barriers – the key to improving all our health services.”

The group is open to anyone over 18 who have lost a loved one to suicide, meeting on the last Wednesday every month at the Old Fire Station, in Swanscombe, at 7pm. Booking can be made online, or alternatively you can call Susan Hart on 01322 389144. For more information visit: www.mycasas.org.uk

Photo, left to right: Diane Morton (Facilitator), Dr. Bhargawa Vasudaven and Susan Hart (Director of CAS Community Solutions).