The United States military began to experience a steady increase in suicide rates across all service branches at the inception of the wars in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003). As the number of suicide deaths increased, so did the number of affected survivors who seek postvention support. Unique issues that accompany suicide death may expose survivors to a more distressing and complicated grief process. Peer support has clinically been observed to be widely utilized by suicide loss survivors. This article explores unique issues accompanying military suicide loss, potential benefits of postvention peer-based support, clinical considerations, and future directions.
This analysis addresses the controversial question of whether disclosure of a significant other's traumatic death cause is associated with mental health outcomes. Consistent with the limited previous research, this data, collected from 131 suicide bereaved, 10 exclusively drug death bereaved, and six other bereaved respondents, showed fewer grief difficulties and better self-rated mental health among those inclined to openly disclose a significant other's death cause, compared to those who feared incurring shame and embarrassment from doing so. Regression analyses suggested that the tendency to openly discuss the death was the single most powerful correlate to explaining variations in grief difficulties.
As detailed in the lead article in this Special Issue, the Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention in the United States has recently worked to formulate national guidelines to mitigate the harmful aftereffects of suicide in social and family systems. In the present article, we elaborate on one of four strategic directions addressed by the Task Force, namely, the development of goals and objectives for surveillance, research and evaluation of the impact of suicide loss. By emphasizing methodological guidelines for the conduct of future studies and illustrating progressive programs of investigation as leading exemplars, we hope to contribute to the sophistication of research on public health initiatives, peer support and professional intervention with communities, families and individuals affected by suicide loss.
BACKGROUND: We investigated the demographic correlates associated with suicide bereavement among a representative sample of U.S. adults from the 2016 General Social Survey. A secondary aim of this study was to use this representative data platform to cross-check official data findings of U.S. completed suicides.
METHODS: Questions on suicide bereavement were administered to 1,432 GSS 2016 respondents and these were cross-tabulated with various demographic and social activity variables included in this omnibus survey to investigate whether suicide bereaved respondents shared any distinctive demographic characteristics.
RESULTS: Findings showed that friends of the suicide deceased person outnumbered the deceased's first degree relatives by at least 2 to 1. We also observed older, White, Non-Hispanic and native born women were over-represented among the suicide bereaved. The suicide bereaved were also less likely to live in the Pacific region, and to live in the nation's largest cities, and were more likely to come from homes where a gun was owned by someone in the household. More of the suicide bereaved reported themselves to be in poorer physical health and bereaved women were more likely to be Facebook subscribers.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings are consistent with other data on U.S. suicide patterns and the greater likelihood of firearms being utilized in suicide deaths. These revealed demographic correlates of suicide offer valuable information to helping agencies seeking to reach potential clients among the suicide bereaved.
BACKGROUND: Suicide may have disruptive and/or devastating effects on family, friends, and the broader community. Of late, increased interest from suicide researchers has given rise to an upsurge in research productivity addressing suicide bereavement and postvention. At this critical juncture, the establishment of an agenda will help guide the direction of future scholarly research in this field.
AIMS: To conduct an exhaustive systematic mapping review and bibliometric analysis of peer-reviewed suicide bereavement and postvention research published over the past 50 years.
METHOD: A comprehensive and strategic search of electronic databases and web-based search engines for original research studies was conducted resulting in the identification of 443 articles.
RESULTS: Since 1965, the global research activities in the field of suicide bereavement and postvention is approximately 8.86 papers per year. There remains a lack of evaluation studies on the effects of interventions/programs with the majority of papers being explanatory in nature. Several areas of study within this field remain neglected.
LIMITATIONS: While the search strategy was rigorous, potential limitations exist due to nonstandardized nomenclature and English language only inclusion, which inherently favors research from high-income countries.
CONCLUSION: Suggested topics for a research agenda are proposed from the current limitations in the field.
BACKGROUND: We investigated lifetime suicide exposures and bereavement among a representative sample of American adults from the 2016 General Social Survey.
METHODS: Questions on lifetime suicide exposures, bereavement and mental health status were administered to 1432 respondents. Suicide exposed and bereaved respondents were compared to non-exposed respondents on three different measures of mental health functioning with cross tabulations and means comparison tests.
RESULTS: 51% of respondents had exposures to one suicide or more during their lifetimes, and 35% were deemed bereaved by suicide, having experienced moderate to severe emotional distress from their losses. Findings suggested more exposures and bereavements were associated with greater numbers of bad mental health days and more expectations of "having nervous breakdowns" but with no clear associations with CES-D scores.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest suicide exposures and bereavement are far more pervasive than commonly thought, with more than half of the population exposed and a third bereaved. Health professionals need to more actively assess for suicide exposures and bereavements, and be vigilant for significant impacts of suicide even when the suicide decedent is not a first degree family relative, helping to reduce the mental health distress presently associated with these experiences.