This study, completed by SoBS volunteer John Whitebrook, aimed to better understand the impacts of the trauma caused by losing a loved one to suicide. The death rate, by suicide, is c. 800,00o to one million per annum, across the world, with an estimated 25 of those bereaved, per incident, being profoundly affected. Survivors are prone to anxiety, depression and pathological complicated grief (CG) and sharing with others has been shown to be a major alleviant of such conditions. Those bereaved also struggle with self-blame and stigma and can, themselves, be at a greater risk of suicide arising from CG, hopelessness and severe psychological stress/PTSD.
Eight people, recruited from SoBS members, participated in the study. Findings show that survivors’ lives are greatly affected and that they often feel that those they lost were let down by the healthcare system. Perceptions of losses vary by relationship and elapsed time. Further education and training are required for healthcare and legal professionals, plus the emergency services, to enhance understanding of the specific needs of those bereaved by suicide. There is a strong sense that society needs a much greater, and better, awareness of suicide, and it’s impacts, including the availability of bereavement assistance. Participants have been significantly assisted by participation in peer support groups but feel that the approach to postvention, and prevention, is highly fragmented and requires overhaul, with survivors having a much larger role.