In the Aftermath of Teenage Suicide: A Qualitative Study of the Psycho social Consequences for the Surviving Family Members Committing suicide in the teenage years can be perceived as the ultimate rejection of family, of significant others, and of society. This article examines the causes and effect of suicide in the youth of Sweden. In its study, topics such as the background of where signs of suicide are visible, methods of suicide, and results of suicide.
The bereavement process after a suicide may differ qualitatively from other types of losses with prolonged reactions of grief and loneliness, greater feelings of shame, and perhaps most importantly, the prolonged search for the motive behind the suicide. This study examines the topic of teenage suicide through methodical and scientific evidence. In examining this article, the psychiatry of consequences of suicide and how an outsider’s perspective can be used to benefit and heal what was once a broken family and the people affected by the death.
This study’s main purpose was to interview surviving members that had lost a teenager by suicide to increase the understanding of the circumstances that these families are living under and to generate hypotheses to be tested in future research. The study examines how the family will search for monitory signs and clues to make sense of the tragedy at hand. Studies of family reactions following teenage suicide are hampered by the psychological difficulties of approaching the families and recruiting an unbiased sample of survivors.
Most interview studies involve samples that are either compromised by a high attrition rate, or based on survivors who organize and actively work through the crisis in support groups for suicide survivors. They derived their study from a larger research project on teenage unnatural deaths in which all teenage suicides were identified and the results were based on file material alone. They used another mixed method where professionals involved in the aftermath were interviewed to investigate suicide survivors and also parents and siblings.
Since all suicide victims were financially dependent on their families and none of the deceased had established a family of their own, the study’s definition of a family was the persons living in the same household as the deceased at the time of the suicide. Persons included by this definition were biological parents, stepfathers, stepmothers, and siblings. To examine the family, a mutual trust and understanding had to be established with the respondents and critical self-reflection.
The family had to make it known what was allowed and where the line was so the interviewers didn’t cross it. Because the study is a hypothesis generating study, all interviews were started with broad questions and were closed with questions such as, “What do you think of this interview? ” The most poignant theme of the interviews was the search for the “why? ” which still preoccupied most of the parents. This search became more salient when the suicide had come unexpectedly.
Most of the teenagers had disguised their suicidal ideation not only from their families, but from other adults and peers. Nearly all parents expressed anger at being deceived, a deception that denied them the opportunity to provide parental support. Most teenagers and their families had lived a pro-social life, which had only increased the confusion and unanswered questions. Several had been known as a “pride to any parent. ” Nonetheless, they still faced problems such as a broken love affair, fear of pregnancy, or difficulties with friends.
The families had trouble seeing why what seemed like such trivial teenage problems had transformed into a matter of life and death. In hindsight, they reproached themselves for their ignorance. Even long after the suicide had occurred, families were still struggling to move on. Some parents had entertained the idea of committing suicide themselves, but decided against it since they know all too well the consequences for their actions. Most teenagers who commit suicide do not express suicidal feelings or otherwise hint at forthcoming suicide.
To avoid “bothering” others, many families had withdrawn from casual socializing. The sense of being deceived results in low self-esteem and nourishes feelings of inferiority and shame. Many of the bereaved appeared to be imbedded in silence. Unfortunately, younger siblings had received little help to work the crisis through. These children are more likely to be burdened than older siblings and need more time, more persistence, and an uncompromising readiness by the adult to deal with the most difficult questions.
Help needs to be directed as direct help to siblings and parents, as well as to the family as a whole. A teenager suicide is a devastating trauma for the surviving family as a whole and the absence of sustainable explanations to the suicide is a predominant issue in the grief process. The prolonged social and psychological isolation of the families in grief should be challenged. There is a need for better understanding and treatment schemes for families who have lost a teenage family member in suicide, and especially for the younger siblings who are often forgotten.
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