Franklin James Cook

Forthcoming Article Explores Nature of Survivor Stigma

In Grief, Research on November 23, 2008 at 7:56 am
Willilam Feigelman

William Feigelman

Dr. William Feigelman of Nassau Community College has shared with SPNAC a report he co-authored with a colleague at Nassau, Dr. Bernard S. Gorman, and with Dr. John R. “Jack” Jordan of the Family Loss Project. The report, titled “Stigmatization and Suicide Bereavement,” will be published in the journal Death Studies. The authors’ attempted to quantify the nature of stigmatization experienced by survivors of suicide loss in a study involving 462 parents whose children had died by suicide.

Their conclusions include that

empathic failures with friends and family may have exacerbated the grief of survivors; … heightening of survivor grief difficulties may also place survivors at greater risk for depression and suicidal thinking; … three recurrent themes [of stigmatization are] “a wall of silence” … “the absence of a caring interest” … and “unhelpful advice.”

They also point to a number of “important clinical implications”:

Therapists need to query their bereavement patients about the kinds of social support they are receiving from their significant others; … to encourage their patients to take stock of their intimate associates, and help them evaluate which relationships may be worth preserving, and which may need to be temporarily avoided or even discontinued,; … [and] to offer guidance on how survivors can “teach” their important intimates … how to better support them …

[The abridged URL for this article is  http://tinyurl.com/FeigelmanStigma .]

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