Practical matters after a suicide

Frequently asked questions
Our information sheet After a suicide: Answers to common questions may be helpful.

Some financial assistance might be available. Our Support Workers can talk with you about some financial assistance that might be available. You can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.

Our helpful guide
After a death: Dealing with practical matters provides information and advice on a wide range of practical matters you are likely to need to attend to after a suicide.

NZ government information
What you need to do when someone dies is a government site also offering key information and practical things that you may need to attend to after the death of a loved one. This is not specifically about suicide deaths, but the general information is clear and helpful.

 

Our information sheets After a Suicide: Answers to common questions and After a suicide: Managing media interest may provide answers to some of the questions you may have. You can also call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.

For some families, whānau, and communities, a ceremonial blessing of the site where a person has died is an important step in helping them come to terms with the tragic loss of life. It is an acknowledgement of the spiritual impact of the tragedy on so many people. It commends the spirit of the person who has died and respects the dignity of them, and of their family, whānau, and community.

A blessing usually includes a simple prayer or karakia. For Māori, a blessing can include a clearing of the tapu on the site. Different cultural and faith groups bring their own approaches.

The blessing may be led by Maori kaumātua, another spiritual, cultural or community leader, or someone the family or whānau invites. 

Some family or whānau members may want to visit the scene and be part of a blessing ceremony, and others may not. You can choose to hold the blessing privately or open it to whoever would like to come, including from your community.

If you are an immediate family or whānau member and would like to arrange a blessing of the site, you could contact your local church or faith centre, your local marae, your cultural leaders, the police officer who has been working with the family, a Police Iwi Liaison Officer, or speak to your Support Worker.

If you don't personally know the family or whānau but witnessed or discovered the death, you can speak to a Support Worker if you'd like to possibly attend any blessing of the site that is being arranged.

If the person died overseas, New Zealand Embassies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade can help you.  They can liaise with police in New Zealand and the country the person died in about the process involved in any local investigations of the death.

They can let you know about:

  • official processes required in the country the person died in
  • available local burial or cremation options and any requirements that must be met
  • contact details for funeral directors in that country who could manage the funeral
  • how you can bring back the person’s body or ashes (repatriation) to New Zealand.

If a person’s body or their ashes are being returned to New Zealand
The family or whānau need to ask a New Zealand funeral director and a funeral director in the country where the death occurred to work together to look after all the necessary arrangements. All costs involved must be paid for by the family or whānau.

To find a funeral director to assist with repatriation go to:
•    Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand 
•    NZIFH Independent Funeral Homes 

For requirements when bringing the person’s ashes into New Zealand

Urgent travel
Here are details on how to get an urgent passport if you need to travel overseas to attend the person’s funeral or tangihanga 

Air New Zealand offers some compassionate flights, see their website for more information.

  •  Consider asking one trusted person to represent the family or whānau with officials such as police, mortuary staff, the funeral director, or the coroner. That person can update the family or whānau with key information.
  •  Keep a list of things to do in one notebook.
  •  Keep important information and papers together in a safe, handy place.
  •  If you have questions, or need extra information, you can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.
  •  See After a Death – dealing with some practical matters for tips on compiling a list of people you may need to inform.

A trusted person, or group of people, could offer emotional support and practical help when you need it. It could be a close friend or caring relative who can support you through challenging times – telling other people the news or if the place of death is being blessed, at the funeral, tangihanga, or at the inquest. A Victim Support Worker can also be available as a support person for you, or for your family, whānau, or friends. You can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.

Trauma and grief can make it harder to think as clearly as normal. Try not to make big decisions immediately, such as moving to a new house or leaving a job. Take time to seek advice from those you trust and let things settle down before making these decisions.

People will often want to immediately express their sadness and show support for you, and your family and whānau. When people offer help, it’s okay to accept it or say, ‘no thanks.’ Support can be kind and reassuring but sometimes can feel overwhelming.

Consider using an answerphone message or an automatic reply to emails so you can respond to any offers of help later. Ask visitors to stay briefly or put a sign on the door asking for no visitors. You could ask someone trusted to deal with calls and visitors on your behalf. It may be helpful to have someone do your shopping or get it delivered. Take a break from social media if you use it.

Making these choices can give you space to think and to grieve as you cope with the news.

After a suicide loss, you might become more aware of the well-being of others. If you’re worried someone is having suicidal thoughts, you can call 1737 to ask for free advice from a trained counsellor 24/7. If you think someone is at immediate risk of harm or suicide, call 111 and stay with them until help arrives.

Downloads

After a death: Dealing with practical matters
After a suicide: Answers to common questions
After a suicide: Supporting a child or young person
After a suicide: Managing media interest