Understanding the role of bereavement in the pathway to suicide

Karen Galway, Sharon Mallon, Janeét Rondon-Sulburan, Lynette Hughes, Michael Rosato, Gerard Leavey

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Bereavement is considered to be a common precursor of death by suicide. Studies suggest those bereaved by suicide may be particularly vulnerable to suicide themselves. Recently, there has been a concern over the number of deaths by suicide across UK and Europe. As a result, an increasing number have been exposed to bereavement by suicide. It remains unclear how these deaths might impact on future suicide rates.
To examine a two-year cohort of suicides to report on bereavement issues recorded in the records belonging to those who died by suicide. To assess the bearing of these deaths on those left behind.
To provide an estimate of the prevalence and types of bereavements that may have contributed towards the suicide.
Following the sociological autopsy approach to studying death by suicide, data was collected from a range of sources, including GP records and Coroner records and interviews with bereaved relatives. The analyses draw on relatives’ accounts in order to increase our understanding of the impact of suicide bereavement. Interviews took place between 18 months and 5 years after the death by suicide.
Of 403 deaths by suicide, 15% of the individuals experienced bereavement and 9% bereavement by suicide. The results support the assertion in the literature that bereavement by suicide increases the risk of suicide through a process of suicide contagion.
The conclusion explains how the findings could be processed through knowledge translation processes, to provide future programs of suicide prevention research for preventative practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Event25th European Congress of Psychiatry: Together for Mental Health - Florence, Florence, Italy
Duration: 01 Apr 201704 Apr 2017


Conference25th European Congress of Psychiatry
Abbreviated titleEPA 2017
Internet address


  • Suicide prevention
  • Bereavement
  • mental health


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