A qualitative study of the coping strategies and needs of adults bereaved by suicide : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University,
The aftermath of suicide can have devastating effects on family and friends. Research has shown that the complexities of suicide bereavement can lead to physical and mental health problems, increased risk of suicide, pathological grief, and non-specific stress disorders. How the bereaved cope with the loss of a loved one by suicidc was the focus of this study. It explored factors that were helpful or unhelpful, as well as the specific needs of this group. Fifteen volunteers over the age of 18, bereaved for more than two, and less than five years, told their stories in 45-60 minute semi-structured interviews. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, results revealed a variety of coping strategies, and highlighted a number of factors that helped or hindered the individual's ability to cope. Results also highlighted a need for training for personnel dealing with the bereaved, suggested improvements in procedures following a suicidal death, and indicated a need for professional help and support immediately following the death. The findings of this study could be beneficial to policymakers at many levels, and to medical and associated professionals. Understanding the factors that can help or hinder the bereaved's ability to cope will help in the assessment of risk, and consequently be useful in the development of early intervention strategies to minimize the risk of physical and psychological problems that can result from such a traumatic event.