17 April 2024

William’s words of support for forces families and veterans bereaved by suicide

17 April 2024

The Prince of Wales has expressed his support for families bereaved by suicide in the armed forces community, telling them: “Please know that you are not alone”.

Heir to the throne William has written a foreword for a series of guides for military veterans and their loved ones published by Suicide Bereavement UK on Wednesday.

The prince described how he and the Princess of Wales had met many bereaved families over the years and understood the “power that comes from sharing experiences”.

He said it was “essential that the voices of those bereaved by suicide are heard”.

“There is no time limit to processing grief, but Catherine and I have met many bereaved families over the years and know the power that comes from sharing experiences, even in the most tragic of circumstances,” William added.

William is returning to official duties on Thursday with a visit to a food surplus distribution charity and a youth centre – his first engagements since Kate, who is undergoing chemotherapy, revealed her cancer diagnosis in a message to the nation.

The free At Your Side guides, produced by Suicide Bereavement UK and commissioned by NHS England, have been written to support veterans, families and serving personnel, and were co-produced with bereaved individuals.

They are based on the experiences and needs of those who took part in the Armed Forces Suicide Bereavement Study – friends, colleagues, spouses, partners, adult children, parents or siblings of those who died by suicide during or after military service.

William, who served in the Army with the Blues and Royals and as an RAF search and rescue pilot, described how the loss of the loved one to suicide can be a complex and long-term experience.

He said he hoped the guides would act as a vital source of guidance and help to those who are processing loss “during what can be dark days of grief”.

“At times of national and international crisis we look to our armed forces to provide help, support and stability,” he said.

“Members of our armed forces never shy away from a challenge – harnessing their skills and working together to help others.

“But in times of great challenge, it can be tempting to hide one’s own needs.”

The prince added: “Few of us will go through our lives without experiencing the loss of someone we love.

“Thankfully, suicide is rare within the armed forces community, but for those bereaved by suicide, this loss can be a complex and long-term experience.

“Often the stigma surrounding suicide can prevent those affected from speaking out and seeking help.”

Suicide Bereavement UK specialises in suicide bereavement research and the development of evidence-informed support materials for bereaved people.

The organisation said it was “so grateful” to the prince, who has long campaigned on raising awareness of mental health, for writing his message.

As well as the two guides for veterans and families, another for serving personnel is due to launched shortly.

The guides can be downloaded at suicidebereavementuk.com/armedforces/

For mental health support, contact the Samaritans on 116 123, email them at [email protected] or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox