Suicide bereavement: piloting a longitudinal study in Australia
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Objectives: The pilot study were (1) to test the technical and administrative feasibility of a full-scale study, including recruitment process, response and retention rate, questionnaire design for an investigation to improve understanding of the suicide bereavement processes compared with bereavement by sudden deaths and (2) to present the differences and changes in the main outcomes—grief reactions of close relatives exposed to suicide and sudden death over 2 years. Design: A longitudinal prospective study comparing bereavement by suicide to other types of sudden deaths over time (6, 12 and 24 months). Setting: Queensland, Australia. Participants: 25 suicide-bereaved and 15 sudden-death-bereaved persons. Outcome measures: Grief reactions (measured with the Grief Experience Questionnaire). Results: The response rate was 52.1% in the suicide bereaved and 45.5% in the sudden-death group. There was a small number of dropouts, with the retention rate over 85% for both groups. Linear mixed modelling for repeated measures showed a significant group effect (higher in suicide bereaved) for total grief, responsibility, rejection and unique reactions. A significant time effect (reduction) was measured for total grief, somatic reactions, general grief reactions and search for explanation. One significant time and group interaction was measured; rejection showed a decline in suicide and an increase in sudden-death bereaved. Conclusions: The pilot study presented the appropriateness of the study methodology. This type of study has implications for counselling and treating people bereaved by suicide and for designing postvention activities.
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Psychology not elsewhere classified