Group intervention for children bereaved by the suicide of a relative

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2002 May;41(5):505-13. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200205000-00007.


Objective: This study evaluated efficacy of a manual-based bereavement group intervention for children who suffered suicide of a parent or sibling.

Method: Seventy-five families (102 children) were screened from medical examiners' lists of suicide victims. Fifty-two families (75 children) were eligible and assigned in alternating order to receive (27 families, 39 children) or not to receive (25 families, 36 children) the intervention. Intervention efficacy was evaluated as change in children's symptoms of anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, social adjustment, and parents' depressive symptoms from initial to outcome assessments.

Results: Changes in anxiety and depressive symptoms were significantly greater among children who received the intervention than in those who did not. A greater dropout of children assigned not to receive (75%) than to receive (18%) intervention led to an imbalance in retention of intervention and nonintervention participants.

Conclusions: A bereavement group intervention focusing on reactions to death and suicide and strengthening coping skills can lessen distress of children bereaved after parental or sibling suicide. Such intervention may prevent future morbidities.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Bereavement*
  • Child
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychotherapy, Group*
  • Suicide / psychology*