Hertfordshire and West Essex Suicide Bereavement Service.

If you are visiting this page today you may be a relative, friend or colleague of someone who has taken their life; a suspected suicide in Hertfordshire or West Essex. If this is the case it’s likely to be a time of confusion, shock and deep sadness at the loss of your loved one or friend. You may be a witness or a professional who has been affected by a suspected suicide death.

At this time, you may be unsure of what to do next, who to contact, how to tell family and friends, what words to use to tell your children or other children in the family. A suspected suicide death is unlike most other deaths. All deaths are unique and the way people grieve is also unique to them, however a suicide adds a complexity to a death and the normal emotions and feelings felt by people grieving, such as sadness, denial, anger, guilt and frustration, can be felt very intensely.

These emotions and many more are all very normal in the circumstances of what has happened to you.

The Hertfordshire and West Essex Suicide Bereavement Service (HSBS) supports people living anywhere in Hertfordshire and West Essex of any age. It is a confidential, free of charge service. We are a small team of dedicated staff and volunteers, mostly with lived experience of suicide. International research has shown that very early support following a suspected suicide death gives most people the very best outcomes, emotionally and physically.

We can offer practical and emotional support within around 48 to 72 hours of a referral been received. We provide further advice and guidance in a pack of information delivered to you.

We offer:

  • Adult individual suicide bereavement support including practical advice and guidance and emotional support for those living in Hertfordshire and West Essex

  • Advice and guidance to parents of children who have been bereaved by suicide; emotional support for children individually or with their family.

  • Drop-in support groups, both adult groups and groups for children.

  • Liaison with professionals including schools, GPs and other services, and the Coroner up to and including the inquest.

Most of our referrals are made by our partners Hertfordshire Police when a death occurs within Hertfordshire. Referrals can also be made by other professionals, including the West Essex Wellbeing Team. They provide us with a minimal amount of contact information.

Anyone affected by a suicide death can make a self-referral by completing our online referral form. For further information or enquiries, you can contact our service via email hsbs@chums.uk.com or via telephone leaving a message with the main office number 01279 212170, and a member of the team will respond.

Referral Criteria

  • Suicide or suspected suicide death

  • Lives in Hertfordshire or West Essex. Death can have occurred somewhere else

  • Any age

Referral Information Required for each Person Referred for Support

  • Name

  • Deceased name and relationship to referred

  • Date of death

Children and Young people under the age of 18 years can receive immediate short-term support from the Hertfordshire and West Essex Suicide Bereavement Service (HSBS). For further ongoing support or bereavement counselling, we would advise a referral to an appropriate service such as a provider of bereavement counselling or a bereavement support group.

Gemma and Mason’s Story

“Back in May 2016 I took a phone call one late Friday evening that would change my 9-year-old son Mason’s life forever and turn our world as a family upside down. Mason’s dad David had taken his own life. How do you tell a 9-year-old that their Dad has died, let alone explain suicide? I needed help, that help came in the form of Caroline from CHUMS.

Caroline gave us advice on how to tell Mason, guided us through the funeral, and was just there whenever we needed in those early days. Mason attended his first workshop in November 2016 and left smiling for the first time in months, in his own words ‘mum I met people just like me’.

Mason has found a support network through CHUMS, he has met other children bereaved by suicide, who he can share experiences with, but also have fun with. We know there will be more tricky times ahead as we reach the teenage years, but we feel less apprehensive knowing CHUMS have our backs.”

“On being approached by CHUMS, I was apprehensive as to whether to proceed. The lady from CHUMS’ help and understanding of my feelings is palpable. I will not hesitate to recommend CHUMS to anyone who needs a caring ear. With grateful thanks, Kathy Bramall”  Age 76

For more information about this service please contact: The Hertfordshire and West Essex Suicide Bereavement Service team at hsbs@chums.uk.com

Helen Lehrle – Service Co-ordinator
Annie Cook – Service Practitioner
Telephone: 01279 212170

Service User Testimonials

“I have been listened to patiently and compassionately. This helped to build my confidence in CHUMS abilities to help. I was able to trust in CHUMS. The telephone contacts were conducted when I needed these and I felt eventually quite comfortable in discussing my personal situation.”

“Access for me to a help line that has capable people who can deliver both practical and supportive guidance, whenever it is required”

“It has helped me to realise that my position and feelings are quite normal reactions in this type of tragic occurrence”

“Two years ago, my life changed from the happiest I’d ever known to the saddest, with pain that I would not wish on anyone.  My life and my boys won’t be the same again.  Grief is unique to each person that experiences a loss, but Bedfordshire Suicide Bereavement Service run by CHUMS and the people I have met through them, have been a tremendous support. CHUMS have always been there whenever I have asked for help and that’s priceless, however, BSBS is a charity and like so many others, they need money to carry on their great work, sadly, for the many who will need the service in the future.”

“After losing my son Martin to suicide, I really do not know how our family (which includes Martin’s two young sons) would have coped without CHUMS and Caroline.  Thank you”

“We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that donated to Chris’s memory giving page, raising a staggering £5,000.  As much as we wish the page didn’t exist, the funds raised will go towards the BSBS Appeal, such an amazing initiative that CHUMS have in place.  Caroline arrived at our door the day after Chris passed and it was like a guardian angel coming to our home.  Our lives have been turned up upside down and we can honestly say that without the support and guidance from Caroline and CHUMS, we would not be able to get through this tragic time.”

Resources and Information

Managing Difficult Times

Download PDF

Support after Suicide Partnership – Support after Suicide; Help is at Hand Guide

Visit Support After Suicide

Guide to Inquests and Coroner Services

Visit Coroners Services

Rethink Mental Illness

Visit Rethink


Beyond the Rough Rock – ISBN -13:978-0953912377 Winston Wish –  supporting a child who has been bereaved though suicide. Explaining to a child that someone has died by suicide is possibly one of the most difficult situations that a parent or carer might ever face.  This booklet offers practical advice for families in the immediate days and weeks when suicide has been the cause of death.

Make A Referral

Before you make a referral please read our referral criteria


What happens to your personal data?

The information that you share with us stays within a dedicated computer system and is stored on a specialist client database called PCMIS. This information does not stay within our website and submitted referrals are not stored within the website environment or with any other third party. Referrals are transmitted directly into our database. This ensures that personal data is stored safely and securely in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018. This is only accessed and used to plan and monitor CHUMS support.

We regularly share information with other professionals including CAMHS and Early Help. This is to ensure that we are working together to provide every young person with the right support at the right time.