Suicide and Bereavement (AISRAP)

SUICIDE AND BEREAVEMENT

Source: Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention and Postvention Australia (AISRAP) Postvention Australia Guidelines: A resource for organisations and individuals providing services to people bereaved by suicide.  Download PDF of Guidelines.

Research has shown that compared to those bereaved by other types of death, including accidental death, people bereaved by suicide may show higher levels of shame, responsibility, guilt, rejection, blame (self-and/or others), personal and public stigma, sense of isolation, and trauma.

The constructionist theory of bereavement proposes that grieving involves actively reconstructing a world of meaning that has been challenged by loss.

Suicide bereavement may also be experienced as a transformational process of positive change (such as finding new purpose in life, which is known as post-traumatic growth (PTG)

People bereaved by suicide have a higher risk of suicidal behaviour, mental health disorders and complicated grief, which may require clinical interventions – Postvention is therefore a significant form of suicide prevention.

Factors impacting bereavement

  • Kinship and quality (closeness) of the relationship
  • Age and gender of the bereaved, as well as personal or family history of mental illness, coping mechanisms and personality
  • Deceased’s age, physical or mental illness or history of suicidal behaviour
  • Circumstances of death incl finding the body, violence and circumstances in which death occurred
  • Culture – values, attitudes and belief systems incl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and CALD communities
  • Availability of formal and informal support and their quality