Creation of a death by suicide: How do bereaved young adults come to understand the death of a friend as suicide?

Mallon, Sharon and Stanley, Nicky (2015). Creation of a death by suicide: How do bereaved young adults come to understand the death of a friend as suicide? Crisis, 36(2) pp. 142–147.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1027/0227-5910/a000299

Abstract

Background: Suicide research acknowledges the negotiated nature of a coroner’s verdict of suicide. However, the process by which those who are bereaved come to determine that a death was a suicide has received little attention. Aims: To explore how young adults come to conceptualize their friends’ deaths as suicides. Method: In-depth interviews were undertaken with 12 young people whose friends had died by apparent suicides. Interviews were analyzsed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: Few of the participants attended the inquest, and most placed little value on the verdict given to the death by the coroner. However, participants used processes and definitions similar to the coroners’ to explore and create meaning from their friend's final thoughts and actions in order to determine whether he/she meant to end their life. Conclusion: This research contributes to our understanding of the profound impact of death by suicide and the negotiated nature of participants’ understandings of the death. The findings can assist in understanding how the bereaved may be supported.

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