Is Suicide Bereavement Different? Perspectives From Research and Practice: John R. Jordan and John L. McIntosh
T he question whether and in what manner the mode of death changes the nature of the bereavement experience has a long and sometimes con-tested history in thanatology, including in our area of interest, which is survivorship after the loss of a loved one to suicide. The question has important research and clinical implications. For example, if the bereavement experience of the bereaved after suicide is reliably different from that of other loss survivors, then suicide survivors may do better in support groups that are homogeneous as to cause of death, or they may require specialized types of interventions that target their unique problems. Recently, we have devoted an entire chapter to addressing this important issue in our new book on the subject of grief after suicide (Jordan & McIntosh, 2010a).1 In the present chapter, we try to accomplish several goals. First, we brie‹y summarize the research literature that bears on the subject of differences between bereavement after suicide and after other modes of death, and we offer an abbreviated summary of our recent thinking about how we might resolve the many contradictory –ndings in the empirical literature on this matter. Second, we present a case example of the suicide of a young adult and some of the clinical work done by the –rst author with the deceased’s father and his family. And, last, we illustrate how the research literature can inform our understanding of the experience of losing a child to suicide and the clinical work that ‹ows from that understanding.