Year: 2023 Source: PLoS ONE, (2023), 18(8), e0284897. SIEC No: 20231904
Introduction Each year an estimated 48 million people are bereaved by suicide internationally. Following traumatic events, experiencing intrusive mental imagery relating to the trauma is not uncommon. This phenomenological study aimed to explore the nature, experience and impact of intrusive mental imagery after suicide bereavement. Methods Semi-structured interview transcripts with 18 adults bereaved by the suicide of a close contact were analysed using thematic analysis to explore patterns and themes within the data, with particular consideration of the content of images, how people experience and relate to the imagery, and the impact that the imagery has on the bereaved. Results Thematic analysis identified common characteristics in the experience of intrusive mental imagery following suicide loss, summarised under two main themes capturing: 1) the descriptive characteristics and 2) the emotional experience of intrusive mental imagery following suicide loss. The majority of participants found the experience of intrusive imagery distressing, but most also described positive aspects, including help in making sense of the death and retaining memories of the deceased. Conclusion Findings inform our understanding of the distressing experience of intrusive imagery after suicide loss, also revealing perceived value in processing the death.