chapter  9
Principles of Grief Counseling With Adult Survivors
WithJohn R. Jordan
Pages 46

In Chapter 1, we defi ned a suicide survivor as “someone who experiences a high level of self-perceived psychological, physical, and/or social distress for a considerable length of time after exposure to the suicide of another person” (see Chapter 1, “A General Defi nition of Survivorship”). A great deal has been written about the impact of losing a loved one to suicide. Chapters 1 through 5 of this book summarize the extensive empirical literature on this topic. The general conclusion is that for those who meet this defi nition of a suicide survivor, the impact can be severe and life altering, with an attendant risk of psychiatric morbidity and even mortality. Given this consensus, it is surprising that so little effort has been made to study how bereavement caregivers can be of help to suicide survivors. Indeed, the effectiveness of bereavement-related interventions for the all mourners has been subject to question, as most people seem to recover from the loss of a loved one without the aid of formal, professional intervention (M. S. Stroebe, Hansson, Schut, & W. Stroebe, 2008a), and interventions designed to facilitate recovery or ameliorate the negative

effects of bereavement have demonstrated a surprising lack of robustness (Currier, Holland, & Neimeyer, 2007; Currier, Neimeyer, & Berman, 2008; Jordan & Neimeyer, 2003). With regard to interventions specifi c to suicide survivors, Jordan and McMenamy (2004) and McDaid, Trowman, Golder, Hawton, and Sowden (2008) have completed recent reviews of evidence-based interventions for this group. Both reviews noted that the small number of relevant studies do show some positive effects for participants. However, both reviews also came to similar conclusions about the paucity of such studies, the methodological weakness of the research that has been done, and the need for more and better designed investigations into interventions to help suicide survivors (see also Chapter 33 of this book). While noting that there are many descriptions of clinical work with survivors, Jordan and McMenamy stated that

Accordingly, this chapter will draw from the limited body of studies of interventions for survivors, from the general clinical literature on bereavement-related interventions, and from the clinical experience of the author and others who have worked extensively with suicide survivors.