Those bereaved by suicide are a high-risk group of adverse health outcomes and suicidal behavior, yet little is known about the experiences and support needs of these individuals in the UK.
We conducted a national cross-sectional study using an online survey and analyzed the experiences of 7158 participants who had been bereaved or affected by suicide.
Suicide had a major impact on 77% of participants, including those who had lost a friend and those exposed to suicide at a professional level. Mental and physical health problems linked to the suicide were reported in half. Adverse social outcomes and engaging in high-risk behaviors following the suicide were common. Over a third reported suicidal ideation and 8% had attempted suicide as a direct result of the suicide loss. Most had not accessed support services, with the majority viewing provision of local suicide bereavement support as inadequate.
Our results highlight the need for a multi-disciplinary approach in postvention and the provision of proactive outreach to support those bereaved by suicide. Postvention efforts need to acknowledge the death of a friend by suicide as a significant loss.