Mothers losing an adult child to suicide and people bereaved by the suicide of a partner run a significantly higher risk of suicide compared to people bereaved after sudden deaths from other causes.
The psychological impact on other members of the family is also serious: children who lose a mother to suicide have an increased risk of depression, while people who lose a child to suicide have an increased likelihood of psychiatric admission for mental illness.
The findings come from a new Review, published to coincide with the launch of The Lancet Psychiatry journal, reviewing the evidence from 57 studies comparing the effect of suicide bereavement on death, mental health, and social functioning of family members, friends, and other close contacts of the deceased with the effects of other sudden bereavements.
In view of the extent of the risks associated with suicide bereavement, the current reliance on the voluntary sector for bereavement support (for example Cruse Bereavement Care, Samaritans, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide, Winston's Wish) may be unsustainable and inappropriate. More input may be needed from health and social services as well as education of the public on the best ways to respond to a bereaved person."*