Press release

Safe Harbour - a new, free illustrated story book for children bereaved by suicide

Published: 11 June 2024


A new, free illustrated story book ‘Safe Harbour’ that will support children who have been bereaved by suicide, is now available to download or order.

Written by Patricia Forde and illustrated by visual artist Bronagh Lee, this new HSE resource will empower parents or carers to have difficult conversations safely with their child around this sensitive topic. It is accompanied by Safe Harbour: A Helpful Guide for Parents and Carers, which outlines how parents or carers can practically use the book.

Speaking about the new book, Mary Butler TD, Minister for Mental Health and Older Persons said:

“I am delighted to officially launch ‘Safe Harbour’- a new, free illustrated storybook for children who have been bereaved by suicide. This is a beautiful book, and I greatly welcome every opportunity to come together to further break down the silence or barriers surrounding suicide. We have never had a resource like this for parents before. What this book, and the accompanying guide, does is give parents a language to talk about suicide with a child. Suicide is a major public health issue and each suicide directly affects many people, their families and communities. Suicide reduction remains a key priority for me and for Government, and resources such as Safe Harbour, under Connecting for Life, are hugely important.”

In support of the launch, Bernard Gloster, HSE Chief Executive Officer said:

“It is my great pleasure to endorse Safe Harbour - and its accompanying resources - produced by the HSE in Dublin and the Midlands, the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention, and the Irish Childhood Bereavement Network within the Irish Hospice Foundation. Thank you to everyone who collaborated on this heartfelt project - the result of which is a beautiful suite of evidence-informed, and meaningful resources to support any parent or carer in having compassionate, age-appropriate conversations about suicide, safely with their children.”

At the launch, John Meehan, HSE Assistant National Director and Head of the NOSP outlined:

“Over 90% of people who have been bereaved by suicide in Ireland, received support from their family, friends or community in the first instance. However, talking with young children about the death of someone close by suicide, can feel overwhelming or daunting, especially at a time when a parent is also grieving themselves. To this end, we are very proud to introduce Safe Harbour - a remarkable beacon of hope that brings reassurance to parents and carers, that these tender conversations are always possible.”

Mary O’Kelly, Chief Officer, HSE Dublin South, Kildare & West Wicklow Community Healthcare added:

“The project team working on Safe Harbour, provided me with a copy of this book recently, and frankly, it stopped me in my tracks. It is a beautiful piece of work that offers gentle and effective guidance in a profoundly empathetic way. I would like to congratulate and thank all who worked collaboratively on this project.”

Maura Keating, National Coordinator of the Irish Childhood Bereavement Network, Irish Hospice Foundation said:

“We are contacted regularly by families seeking guidance to have the really difficult conversations with children after a death by suicide. Therefore we are proud to have co-produced Safe Harbour resources with the HSE to enhance the support we offer and provide some much needed help at one of the most challenging times a family can go through. To ensure these valuable resources are widely available we are delighted to be hosting the full suite of resources along with a range of other supports on our website The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network - childhoodbereavement.ie”.   

Get Safe Harbour

Visit Safe Harbour - childhoodbereavement.ie for:

  • more information on Safe Harbour
  • downloads of Safe Harbour and Safe Harbour: A Helpful Guide for Parents and Carers
  • accompanying audio resources
  • information on bereavement supports

Safe Harbour and Safe Harbour: A Helpful Guide for Parents and Carers, are also available in print.

To request printed copies, email safeharbour@nosp.ie.


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