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2000 Oregon Youth Suicide Prevention SUPPORT SUICIDE SURVIVORS
The Oregon Plan for Youth Suicide Prevention
Related WWW links.STRATEGY 14: SUPPORT SUICIDE SURVIVORS
Resources for Strategy #14
OBJECTIVE
Foster the development of bereavement support groups for youth and adult survivors of suicide (those who have lost someone by suicide).

AUDIENCE
Suicide survivors, including parents, other family members, and young people who have lost a friend.

RATIONALE AND EFFICACY
In 1998, 569 Oregonians died by suicide.67 It has been estimated that six to eight people are directly affected by each suicide death, suggesting that at least 3,000 Oregonians each year face the emotional pain of losing a loved one or friend to suicide.68 A survivor?s own risk of suicide can increase as a result of cultural taboos and stigmatization, leading to criticism or condemnation of the survivor, social isolation, and loss of social support.69 Young people who have lost a friend or acquaintance to suicide may be at increased risk of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal ideation and behavior. Social support should be provided for these potentially bereaved and depressed youth.72

Research on the effectiveness of supportive intervention with suicide survivors is limited. One study concluded that group interventions are initially worthwhile in helping adolescents cope with peer suicide, but that supportive intervention may be needed to offset a decrease over time in self-worth and academics.71 Another study of bereavement support group outcomes for adult survivors produced significant reductions in overall depression, distress, and despair.70

Many survivors find that involvement with suicide prevention promotes healing, reduces stigma, and helps them cope with the grief of losing a loved one or friend.

Suicide survivors are at increased risk for suicide.

IMPLEMENTATION CONSIDERATIONS
The stigma often associated with suicide inhibits some survivors from risking public visibility; care should be taken in outreach efforts to protect their privacy. Collaboration with established survivor networks and/or local survivor leadership is recommended.

Bereaved youth and their families may need crisis intervention services, individual counseling, or participation in a peer support group or community-based bereavement support group. Parents of and adults working with bereaved youth should be knowledgeable about local services and should assist youth in getting the support they need.

Annually, 3000 Oregonians lose a loved one or friend to suicide.

SAMPLE IMPLEMENTATION ACTIVITIES

  • Conduct outreach to suicide survivors and invite them to participate in implementing suicide prevention strategies.
  • Assist survivors in organizing local bereavement support networks.
  • Assist survivors in connecting with state, regional, and national organizations working to support survivor advocacy in preventing suicide.
  • Support efforts to create community and regional events that increase survivor networking and involvement in suicide prevention activities.


REFERENCES
67 Center for Health Statistics. Oregon Vital Statistics County Data 1998. Health Services. Oregon Department of Human Services. 2000. Portland, Oregon.
68 American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Survivor?s of Suicide Information Guide. 1999. New York, NY.
69 Suicide Information & Education Centre. SIEC Alert. 1999; 38. http://www.siec.ca http://www.siec.ca Calgary, Alberta.
70 Brent D, Perper J, Mortiz G, et al. Psychiatric sequelae to the loss of an adolescent peer to suicide. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1993; 32(3):509-17.
71 Sandor M, Walker L, Sands D. Competence-building in adolescents, Part II:Community intervention for survivors of peer suicide. Issues Compr Pediatr Nurs. 1994; 17(4):197-209.
72 Constantino R, Bricker P. Nursing postvention for spousal survivors of suicide.Issues Ment Health Nurs. 1996; 17(2):131-52.
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