AN assembly member for North Wales has raised concern over a lack of funding for lifeline services that support people who are bereaved by suicide.

AM Mark Isherwood, who chairs the Welsh Government’s cross-party group for funerals and bereavement, held a debate over bereavement support on Thursday, January 23 amid concern that while people who are bereaved by suicide are at a higher risk of attempting suicide themselves, it is not recognised as a key element of suicide prevention.

According to Samaritans Cymru, 300 to 350 people die by suicide each year in Wales, with the male suicide rate almost three times higher than that for females.

Mr Isherwood urged the Welsh Government to step up its funding for services such as the all-Wales charity 2 Wish Upon a Star, set up by Rhian Mannings following the sudden death of her son, which led to her husband taking his own life; as well as Cruse Bereavement Care, which aims to provide tailored bereavement support for individuals to deal with grief and build a meaningful life.

“Although [2 Wish Upon a Star] has effectively become a statutory service in Wales, working with every health board and every police force, they're receiving no statutory support whatsoever, having to raise every penny themselves despite reducing pressure on mental health teams,” Mr Isherwood said.

The cross-party group issued recommendations to the Welsh Government including improved data for bereavement support planning, to make bereavement a key element of Welsh Government strategy and policy, to embed bereavement support in schools, and make the provision of bereavement care sustainable.

“A key consideration from the results, therefore, is the development of a national delivery framework for bereavement care,” Mr Isherwood said. “This is urgent and must include support for those bereaved by suicide, co-produced by those with lived experience."