Predictors of psychosocial distress after suicide, SIDS and accidents

Death Stud. 2003 Feb-Mar;27(2):143-65. doi: 10.1080/07481180302892.


This article compares the outcome and predictors of psychosocial distress of parents bereaved by young suicides, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and child accidents. One objective is to explore whether suicide bereavement is more difficult for those left behind than other forms of bereavement. Data have been collected from 140 families, consisting of 232 parents, by the use of the Impact of Event Scale, the General Health Questionnaire, and the Inventory of Traumatic Grief. Qualitative aspects of bereavement are assessed by in-depth interviews with family members from 40 families. The results show that the similarities between the samples on outcome and predictors are more striking than the differences, which is explained by the common traumatic aspect of unexpected and violent deaths. One and a half years post-loss, 57-78% of the survivors scored above the cut-off levels for traumatic grief reactions. Although no significant differences are found between survivors of suicide and accidents, both groups evidence significantly greater subjective distress than the survivors of SIDS. Self-isolation is by far the best predictor of psychosocial distress in all three samples. Rather than focusing on the exceptional position of suicide survivors, it seems important to call attention to sudden and traumatic death in general as a factor to be associated with post-traumatic reactions and complicated mourning.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality
  • Accidents / psychology*
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Norway
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Alienation / psychology*
  • Sudden Infant Death*
  • Suicide / psychology*