Year: 2003 Source: Acta Criminologica, v.16, no.4, (2003), p.52-66 SIEC No: 20070742

The indirect victim’s experience of suicide and the victimisation caused by the incident was studied. The Indirect Victim’s Experience Model of a Suicide Incident was designed as a theoretical framework to direct the research findings and interpretation of data. A qualitative exploratory approach was used and a group of 20 respondents was selected by means of purposive and snowball sampling methods. All the respondents were interviewed personally. The interpretation and analysis of the data showed that the assumptions based on the Janoff-Bulman and Frieze’s theory and certain societal myths could subconsciously have an influence on the nature and extent of the victimisation experienced by the next of kin. The respondents themselves accepted these assumptions and myths. Research findings further showed that these assumptions are affected when the news of the suicide is received. The myths may be refuted and in this way affect the indirect victim’s experience of suicide. Every indirect victim functions within a specific family and social system before, during and after the suicide incident. The way in which the indirect victim experiences the support and integration from within these systems, determines the acceptance or non-acceptance of the death by suicide of a significant other. This will also have an influence on the indirect victim’s reintegration into society both in the short and long term. The need for the indirect victim to be involved within a family and society was clearly identified during this study. These findings made it possible to make recommendations with regard to the direct victim’s experience of suicide. Society should be informed about the realities and consequences of suicide.