Changes in Grief and Mental Health of Bereaved Spouses of Older Suicides

Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center, Division of Family Services of Los Angeles.
Journal of Gerontology 12/1992; 47(6):P357-66. DOI: 10.1093/geronj/47.6.P357
Source: PubMed


Comparisons are made of the impact of a suicide death on the surviving spouse (55 years and older) with that of a natural
death on spouse survivors and a married nonbereaved control group over a bereavement period of 2½ years after death. Regardless
of mode of death, the loss of a loved one is a difficult psychological trauma, accompanied by depression, confusion, and pervasive
feelings of emptiness. Few differences in the impact of the deaths in the early months of bereavement were reported, but changes
appeared over the course of the 2½-year measurement period. Compared with natural death survivors, the process of bereavement
was found to be more difficult for the survivors of a suicide death, whose severe depressive feelings do not seem to lessen
significantly and whose feelings of mental health do not seem to improve until after the first year. Women, in general, report
greater feelings than men of anxiety, tension, and apprehension, especially within the first 6 months. By the end of the observation
period, most of the differences between the two bereaved groups have disappeared, and both report functioning adequately despite
continuing feelings of sadness and loss

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    • "Several factors at the individual level (e.g., the sex and age of the bereaved, the age of the deceased, and the method of suicide), the family level (e.g., transgenerational patterns, the current stage of the family life cycle, the role and the position of the deceased member inside the family structure and hierarchy, and whether the family was functional or dysfunctional before the suicide), and at the global level (e.g., rituals around bereavement, the social network of the bereaved, cultural and religious influences, possible stigma or taboo within the society, and political or economic factors) may influence the course of bereavement.[19] Survivors need more time to overcome the grief following the loss of somebody from suicide than from other causes of death.[2021] Shneidman[22] argued that the real motive for suicide is mental pain (i.e., “psychache”). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: It is estimated that approximately one in four people know someone who has taken their own life and that one suicide death leaves six or more suicide survivors. The aim of this paper was to review the literature regarding the association between suicide and bereavement, focusing also on the supportive and therapeutic resources available for survivors. Careful MedLine and PsycINFO searches for the period 1980-2013. The review of the literature indicates that emotional turmoil in suicide survivors may last a long time and, in some cases, may end with their own suicide. Future research should evaluate the efficacy of professional treatments and of support groups targeting suicide survivors. It is crucial to understand the bereavement process after the suicide of a significant other in order to provide proper care, reduce stigma, and improve the outcomes of related psychiatric conditions.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Indian Journal of Psychiatry
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    • "For example, the loss of a close relative or friend by sudden traumatic death or suicide can complicate grieving. Farberrow et al. [1] suggested that the process of bereavement is more difficult for those bereaved by a suicide, especially during the first year, as compared to those bereaved by a death from natural causes. "
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    ABSTRACT: Family or friends bereaved by suicide are at risk of experiencing complications because of attitudes regarding suicide. It is important that individuals close to those grieving after a death by suicide demonstrate adequate knowledge and compassionate attitudes. To this end, we examined the factors that contribute to attitudes toward persons bereaved by the suicide of a family member or friend, and perceptions of suicide prevention and the promotion of mental health. A total of 5154 residents of a rural town in northern Japan aged 30-69 years completed a cross-sectional questionnaire. The questionnaire gathered data about demographic variables, depressive symptoms, and issues related to suicide including personal experience of an acquaintance's suicide, attitudes towards those bereaved by suicide, and perceptions regarding suicide prevention. Factors related to these attitudes and perceptions were analysed using logistic regression models. Overall, 67.5% of respondents demonstrated appropriate attitudes towards those bereaved by suicide; 30.4% of responses were undetermined, and 2.1% were inappropriate. Undetermined attitudes were associated with male gender (adjusted OR 1.42, 95%CI = 1.26-1.61), younger age (2.64, 2.12-3.29), lower education level (1.32, 1.07-1.62), greater severity of depression (3.81, 2.80-5.20), and lack of personal experience of an acquaintance's suicide (1.39, 1.22-1.57). Inappropriate attitudes were associated with male gender (adjusted OR 1.98, 95%CI = 1.33-2.94), lower education level (2.55 1.34-4.83), and greater severity of depression (6.93, 3.52-13.67). Overall, 16.0% demonstrated passive thoughts regarding suicide prevention and the promotion of mental health in the community, and were associated with male gender (1.22, 1.04-1.42), younger age (2.72, 2.03-3.65), lower education level (1.32, 1.02-1.71), and greater severity of depression (4.94, 3.58-6.82). Factors that contributed to undetermined attitudes included male gender, younger age, lower education level, greater severity of depression, and lack of personal experience of an acquaintance's suicide. Passive thoughts regarding suicide prevention and the promotion of mental health were associated with male gender, younger age, lower education level, and greater severity of depression.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2008 · BMC Public Health
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    • "596). Another set of analyses examined changes in social support over the 30 months postloss; analyses were restricted to those subjects with complete data – 71% of the suicide survivors, 89% of the spouses bereaved by natural deaths, and 79% of the controls (Farberow et al., 1992). Whereas the spouses bereaved from natural causes began to appear less distressed by 6 months, suicide survivors continued to report higher levels of grief and depression until after the first year. "
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    ABSTRACT: Little research has examined the consequences of a suicide for social or family networks. Because suicide occurs within families, the focus on the aftermath of suicide within families is an important next step to determine exactly how to help survivors. In this article, we review and summarize the research on the impact of suicide on individuals within families and on family and social networks. We begin with a discussion of family changes following suicide. Next, we discuss the effects of suicide on social networks overall and responses of children and the elderly to a suicide in the family. Finally, we identify key issues that remain to be resolved in family survivor research and make recommendations for future studies.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2008 · Crisis The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention
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