The impact of stigma on the grief process of suicide survivors
Guglielmi, Maggie Colleen
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Using qualitative methodology this study investigated the unique reactions and experiences of those that are grieving the death of a loved one to suicide. More specifically, it explored the question of if and how the stigma surrounding suicide impacts suicide survivors and the grieving process. The participants in this study were three males and five females who each lost an immediate family member to suicide. Participants were interviewed regarding their experiences after the death of their loved one and their perceptions of stigma. The results of this study suggest that the stigma surrounding suicide still exists and manifests itself in several ways. The stigma impacted the grief process of survivors in a negative way, by disrupting their social support networks, contributing to feelings of shame, embarrassment, guilt and responsibility within a survivor, by creating conflict in the religious beliefs of a survivor, and by encouraging survivors to grieve more privately. Suicide survivors in this study actively tried to resist stigma, and eventually took away a new understanding and sensitivity about suicide and the impact on survivors and their support networks.