Someone from the police usually informs close relatives about a death due to suicide. The police should pass on information, and if appropriate, tell people where they can find more information, help or counselling. Most people we talked to said that the police were efficient, compassionate and courteous. A few thought the police needed more training and needed to think carefully about the words they used when delivering bad news (see Finding out
Steve said that the policewoman who called was excellent and that she answered all his parents’ questions about his sister’s death as well as she could. However, Bob thought that while the police were good at answering questions they did not volunteer information unless asked.
The police and the coroner’s officer also investigate the circumstances of the death. People recalled that the police took statements and looked for evidence about the cause and circumstances of the death.
The police helped people in many ways. For example, they helped Lucy deal with the media, and they helped Jacqui get to school quickly when she needed to reach her children to tell them that their father had died. Some people recalled other special actions that the police had taken which were much appreciated.
A few people recalled certain bad experiences they had had with the police after someone had died. At times more tact and understanding were needed.
Two people said they had been very unhappy about what happened when they went to collect their loved one’s possessions from the police station.
Marion thought the police were unprofessional, unhelpful, and ill-equipped to deal with someone in her situation.
Dolores was very upset when a policeman told her that her husband’s clothes had all been incinerated. The policeman did not seem to realise that articles such as Steve’s clothes and his reading glasses had special significance for her and were precious to her.