The impact of suicide bereavement on educational and occupational functioning: A qualitative study of 460 bereaved adults.
Pitman, A., Putri, A., De Souza, T., Stevenson, F., King, M., Osborn, D., & Morant, N.
People bereaved by suicide are at an increased risk of suicide and of dropping out of education or work. Explanations for these associations are unclear, and more research is needed to understand how improving support in educational or work settings for people bereaved by suicide might contribute to reducing suicide risk. Our objective was to explore the impact of suicide on occupational functioning. We conducted a cross-sectional online study of bereaved adults aged 18–40, recruited from staff and students of British higher educational institutions in 2010. We used thematic analysis to analyse free text responses to two questions probing the impact of suicide bereavement on work and education. Our analysis of responses from 460 adults bereaved by suicide identified three main themes: (i) specific aspects of grief that impacted on work performance, cognitive and emotional domains, and social confidence; (ii) structural challenges in work or educational settings including a lack of institutional support, the impact of taking time off, and changes to caring roles; and (iii) new perspectives on the role of work, including determination to achieve. Institutional support should be tailored to take account of the difficulties and experiences described.