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Suicide Survivor Support Groups: Comings and Goings, Part I

Illness, Crisis, and Loss, Vol 19, No. 1, 2011, pp. 57-71, B. Feigelman

This two-part report examines important aspects of survivor of suicide support groups: some of the motivating factors attracting survivors to join these groups and why many withdraw as time after a loss passes. From a variety of data sources, including survey data collected from 462 parents losing a child to suicide, participant observation data (collected over a 7-year period from more than 200 suicide survivors observed at monthly group meetings) and from follow-up interviews with 24 respondents withdrawing from groups, we investigate the above questions. In this first part, we focus on motivating factors leading suicide-bereaved individuals to participate in support groups and explore several hypotheses associated with participation: conventional religious involvements, family size differences, perceived grief and psychological distress, and help received from bereavement professionals. The present study did not confirm the research-based expectation that support group members would be more distressed than their less active counterparts.

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