Exposure to suicide and identification as survivor: Results from a random-digit dial survey.
Cerel, J.~~Maple, M.~~et al.
There is little empirical evidence regarding lifetime exposure to suicide or identification of those impacted by suicide deaths. Studies previously conducted used only convenience samples. Aims: To determine the prevalence of suicide exposure in the community and those affected by suicide deaths. Methods: A random digit dial sample of 302 adults. Results: 64% of the sample knew someone who had attempted or died by suicide, and 40% knew someone who died by suicide. No demographic variables differentiated exposed versus unexposed, indicating that exposure to suicide cuts across demographics. Almost 20% said they were a ÒsurvivorÓ and had been significantly affected by a suicide death. Demographic variables did not differentiate groups. The relationship to the decedent was not related to self-identified survivor status; what did differentiate those individuals impacted by the death from those who did not was their perception of their relationship with the decedent. Conclusions: Kinship proximity and relationship category to the deceased appeared to be unrelated to survivor status, but perceived psychological closeness to the deceased showed a robust association with self-identified survivor status. We need an expanded definition of Òsuicide survivorÓ to account for the profound impact of suicide in the community.
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