Support for people who have experienced a traumatic event

There are many organisations that can provide advice and support after traumatic events. They can help you talk about and come to terms with events you’ve seen in person or in the media.

These organisations can help:

  • witnesses
  • anyone supporting someone who has experienced a traumatic event
  • anyone who has directly experienced a traumatic event

You can also speak to your GP for advice. If your GP practice is closed, phone 111.

Advice after a sudden death

It’s natural to experience shock after being told someone has died suddenly. You do not need to manage alone. It will be helpful now, or in time, to speak to family, friends or a support service about the person you have lost and how you’re feeling.

Your GP is also there to support you. You could make an appointment to see your GP if you think it might help.

For people who have lost someone in traumatic circumstances, such as suicide, or a death involving drugs or violence, there’s a lot to take in. Processes involving the Police and Procurator Fiscal need to happen, which will delay the usual ways that we mark a death for many days and, in some circumstances even weeks. This can place extra stress on loved ones who are already grieving.

While many people find support with friends and family, some may find they need extra help. Your GP can help with a referral to support services, or you can contact certain services directly. For example, Cruse Scotland, Samaritans or Child Bereavement UK.

Breathing Space

Breathing Space is a free and confidential phone service for people in Scotland who may be feeling stressed, anxious or depressed.

Phone 0800 83 85 87 (6pm to 2am on weekdays and 24 hours at the weekend). Phone calls are free from landlines and mobiles.

Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland Advice Line

If you’ve performed CPR on someone or you have seen someone getting CPR, you may find yourself struggling to process what’s happened.

Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) have an Advice Line that can help.

The Advice Line has trained healthcare professionals who will listen to you. They’ll help you process what you’ve experienced and provide advice and support.

Further information on the CHSS Advice Line

Children 1st Parentline

Parentline is Scotland’s free helpline, email and webchat service for anyone caring for or concerned about a child.

Phone 08000 28 22 33 free (Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm).


The Childline website has advice on children and their worries about the world.

Coping with grief

NHS inform has advice on coping with grief. For example, you can:

Cruse Scotland

Cruse Scotland offers help and support for people dealing with all types of grief.

If you’re over 18, you can chat to someone from Cruse Scotland online. The service is open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 9pm.

You can also phone the free helpline on 0808 802 6161. This is open:

  • Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm
  • weekends, 10am to 2pm

They also provide free bereavement support for workplaces affected by suicide.

Lifelines Scotland

Lifelines Scotland provides help to the thousands of people across Scotland who volunteer:

  • as Community First Responders
  • with the mountain rescue
  • with the RNLI
  • with any other emergency response service

They have advice on understanding your response to trauma and stress.

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)

The NSPCC website has information on talking to children about difficult topics.

Ready Scotland

Ready Scotland have advice on coping with trauma if you’ve been involved in, or affected by, a major incident. This advice is for both adults and children.

Royal College of Psychiatrists

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has information about post-traumatic stress disorder. This includes examples of what can cause it and how it can be treated.


Samaritans are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to listen and help you, whatever you’re going through. To get in touch you can:

Young Scot

Young Scot provides guidance and advice to young people feeling worried or concerned about events happening around the world. You can explore topics like:

You can also listen to the This is How AyeFeel Podcast which covers topics like climate anxiety and mental health.

Last updated:
11 July 2024

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