Towards an Understanding of the Role of Bereavement in the Pathway to Suicide
Dr Sharon Mallon (OU) and Dr Karen Galway (QUB)
Bereavement is considered to be a common precursor of death by suicide. Studies suggest those bereaved by suicide may be particularly vulnerable to suicide themselves. Recently, there has been a steady rise in the number of deaths by suicide in Northern Ireland. As a result, an increasing number of individuals have been exposed to bereavement by suicide. It remains unclear how these deaths might impact on future suicide rates. This presentation is dual focused, it provides an in-depth examination of a two-year cohort of suicides, exploring how bereavement issues affected those who died, and looking at the impact of these deaths on those left behind. Initially, it draws on data from a range of sources, including GP and Coroner records, to provide an estimate of the prevalence and type of bereavement issues that may have contributed towards suicide. It then draws on relatives’ accounts to increase our understanding of the impact of these types of bereavement and makes suggestions in relation to how support services can enhance their response to those affected by these deaths. The presentation concludes by considering how these findings might be used to develop supportive interventions which are best suited to the local setting. It also explains how the findings could instructively inform future programs of suicide prevention and postvention research in Northern Ireland.