The role of social supports in the bereavement process of surviving spouses of suicide and natural deaths

Suicide Life Threat Behav. Spring 1992;22(1):107-24.


This report examines the changing role of social supports in the bereavement of spouses of elderly suicide and natural deaths, focusing on differences and similarities in relation to gender, time, and mode of death. Measurements were obtained 4 times after death (within 2 months, at 6 months, at 12 months, and at 2 to 2 1/2 years) on 79% of the 108 survivors of elderly suicide, 89% of the 199 natural death survivors, and 79% of the nonbereaved controls. The results indicated that the suicide survivors received significantly less emotional support for their feelings of depression and grief than the natural death survivors, and that they did not confide in the persons in their network any more than the nonbereaved controls did. Women report receiving more support overall than men. A low spot in social supports occurred at the 6-month point after loss for both bereaved groups, but primarily in practical help received by natural death survivors. By the end of the second year, both practical and emotional supports had increased to at least the same level as immediately after death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bereavement*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Single Person / psychology*
  • Social Support*
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Time Factors