'People look down on you when you tell them how he died': Qualitative insights into stigma as experienced by suicide survivors

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 2016, 25 (3), pp. 251 - 257
Issue Date:
2016-06-01
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© 2016 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc. This paper aims to present findings that convey how people felt stigmatized after the loss of a loved one to suicide. A qualitative design was used for the purpose of this study. Data were collected using in-depth, face-to-face interviews. Audio-recordings of the interviews were transcribed and thematically analyzed. Ten people bereaved by suicide participated in the study. Four themes emerged from the data namely: Feeling blamed, shamed and judged; Feeling isolated/rejected by friends and community; Feeling silenced and Feeling the burden of others' discomfort. Findings show that stigmatization of the bereaved by suicide had detrimental effects on their relationships and their help seeking behaviours. Further, due to stigma imposed on them by others, participants were denied the opportunity to tell their stories which further complicated their grieving process. Further education and training is required for health professionals to enhance understanding of the specific needs of those bereaved by suicide.
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