“It Changes Your Orbit”: The Impact of Suicide and Traumatic Death on Adolescents as Experienced by Adolescents and Parents

Karl Andriessen, Karolina Krysinska, Debra Rickwood, Jane Pirkis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Having someone close die through suicide or another form of traumatic death is a distressing event in the lives of adolescents, putting them at risk of grief and mental health ramifications. As most research in this field has been focused on intrapersonal grief reactions, this study aimed to broaden the perspective by exploring the impact of the death through an interpersonal lens. Methods: The study involved individual and group interviews with bereaved adolescents (n = 20) and parents of bereaved adolescents (n = 18), and thematic analysis of the data. Results: The analysis yielded three themes: (i) the death is a life-changing experience, (ii) the death differentiates you from your peers, and (iii) the death impacts on the family system. Conclusions: The study revealed the devastating impact of the deaths on adolescents, their relationships with peers and the family system. Adolescents’ grief must be understood within the context of their agency and their immediate social environment. The findings clearly indicate that support for bereaved adolescents should incorporate the familial context.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9356
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2020

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