Suicide survivors' mental health and grief reactions: a systematic review of controlled studies

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2008 Feb;38(1):13-29. doi: 10.1521/suli.2008.38.1.13.


There has been a debate over several decades whether suicide survivors experience more severe mental health consequences and grief reactions than those who have been bereaved through other causes of death. This is the first systematic review of suicide survivors' reactions compared with survivors after other modes of death. Studies were identified by searching the PsychINFO and MEDLINE databases. Forty-one studies met the eligibility criteria. A qualitative data analysis was performed. There were no significant differences between survivors of suicide and other bereaved groups regarding general mental health, depression, PTSD symptoms, anxiety, and suicidal behavior. The results regarding the overall level of grief are less clear, depending on whether general grief instruments or suicide-specific instruments are used. Considering specific grief variables, suicide survivors report higher levels of rejection, shame, stigma, need for concealing the cause of death, and blaming than all other survivor groups.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Suicide*
  • Survivors / psychology*