Year: 2017 Source: Qualitative Social Work. (2017), 16(6): 775-792. SIEC No: 20170625

From a social constructionist and narrative perspective on grief, which emphasizes the connection between situated storytelling, meaning-making and self-formation, this article explores the power of collective storytelling in an Internet-based community of the suicide-bereaved. This is a context where young mourners who have lost a parent to suicide, among others, turn for social support, which is another main focus of the article. Using Scott and Lyman’s taxonomy of ‘accounting practices’ to explain ‘unanticipated’ or ‘untoward behavior’, the approaches to meaning-making of suicide applied in this context for support exchange are analyzed, in the accounts of the parentally bereaved participants and in a co-produced bereavement story. The results showcase how the narrative framing for the interpretation and organization of the suicide experience provided by the website editors as a resistance to the ‘suicide stigma’, together with the power of the experience accumulated by many, can potentially work to destigmatize and empower the parentally bereaved participants’ grief. In addition, this public storytelling is acting to spread ‘lived knowledge’ and thereby to counteract suicide stigma in society. Ultimately, the results constitute a call for a return to a narrative orientation in social work practice. By adopting a teller-focused approach as part of assessment and treatment, social workers could inspire the often traumatized and stigmatized individuals they encounter to become narrators of their own life- and self-narratives, and to assist in the construction of a more tolerable meaning and identity from their experiences.