Suicide and bereavement : an interpretive study

Newman, Garth (2007-12)

Thesis (MA (Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Suicide is the third leading cause of death of worldwide, and its social ramifications are far-reaching. Due to the stigma associated with suicide, as well as the unique emotional processes that occur during bereavement following this mode of death, suicide bereavement is regarded as different - and more intense - than other grief experiences. While the effects of suicide on the suicide-bereaved have been well-documented using objective measures of outcome, the subjective, and often unquantifiable emotional, familial and social consequences of suicide have been largely under-researched. By using an interpretive approach, this study focuses on the subjective experiences of those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Five suicide-bereaved individuals were sampled from a particular community, and their experiences were elicited using semi-structured interviews. The results indicate a number of emotional as well as social processes that occur after suicide, including intense longing for the deceased; rationalisation, disbelief, and denial; feelings of anger, guilt, regret, and sadness; a search for answers, meaning and closure; and blaming and social isolation. While these processes cannot be said to occur exclusively in suicide bereavement, they appear to be experienced more intensely during this form of grief.

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