Posttraumatic Growth among Sibling Survivors of Suicide
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Posttraumatic Growth among Sibling Survivors of Suicide Paula Rymer, MSW, Melinda Moore, MA, & Julie Cerel, PhD University of Kentucky. INTRODUCTION. SAMPLE. RESULTS.  All suicides have one common factor: They produce survivors…people bereaved by suicide

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Introduction 5338324
Posttraumatic Growth among Sibling Survivors of SuicidePaula Rymer, MSW, Melinda Moore, MA, & Julie Cerel, PhDUniversity of Kentucky




  •  All suicides have one common factor: They produce survivors…people bereaved by suicide

  • There is a scarce amount of literature in the area of sibling survivors.

  • Sibling Survivors are referred to as “forgotten mourners” (Dyregrov & Dyregrov, 2005).

  • There is evidence that sibling survivors are effected more deeply and longer by the suicide death than siblings that have lost a loved one due to a illness or accident ( Dyregrov & Dyregrov, 2005).

  • For this study, we asked the following questions:

  • How has your life changed regarding your emotional and physical wellbeing ?

  • Have priorities in your life changed and has your siblings suicide brought spiritual value changes?

  • Length of time since death and how have you changed over time?

  • The degree of change that had occurred in the participants life since the suicide had occurred.

  • Experiences that occurred early in grief process that may still be occurring after time.

  • A) Did you have an interaction with clergy or physician or mental health professional that was not helpful?

  • “I actually saw my priest in my Church once and a few times [talked to] to clergy. As I felt that I needed help to deal with my pain due to my brothers suicide, I still feel that when I left, I was still feeling empty, without answers to my questions on why this happened.”

  • B) What’s the one thing that could have been said to you that would have helped?

  • “with suicide...I feel there can be no answers that could be said to anyone who has had a loss of a loved one. I think its someone that happens, that most don't see it coming. I think the most important they should say, is that its not your fault. A lot of people walk away blaming themselves afterwards, such as.. why didn’t I stop him that night, why didn’t I see he was troubled....After 20 years, I just found out I wasn’t the last one he saw that night..”

  • “I do not think there is anything other than just not doing it that could have made it less painful.”

  • “I'm not sure that there is anything anyone could have said to me then.. I was angry and humiliated and hated the spotlight that was being shined on us (media reports, questions at school, offers of sympathy). I wanted to close down and shut myself off from the world. No one could take away the excruciating pain that I was feeling and I would not open myself up to heal...”



  • A snowball sampling of survivors utilized a secure website to complete the surveys.

  • The sibling research was a piece of a larger study that looked at all survivor relationships, that surveyed suicide bereavement & Post Traumatic Growth (PTG).

  • Participants complete demographics such as: age, perceived closeness, and length of time since loss.

  • The survey measured PTG , rumination, prolonged grief (PG-13), resilience, positive and negative effect, and personality factors.

  • Open ended questions also asked about negative experiences and perception of what would have been more helpful.

  • 136 participants completed surveys including 38 siblings.


  • Limitations: Small sample size, lacking Ethnic diversity

  • Little differences between siblings and others

  • Siblings need to be included in bereavement research as there appears to be little difference between siblings and other relatives

  • Other variables, like perceived closeness to the decedent are probably more important that labeled family relationship.

  • Posttraumatic Growth (PTG; range = 0-126): Overall, range was moderate. Slightly lower (ns) siblings vs. other survivors

  • Prolonged Grief (PG-13; range 13-59; >48 met criteria): ns siblings vs. other

  • Reflective versus Brooding Rumination (subsets of a Rumination Scale with a range of 10-50). Ns siblings vs. other, trend to have slightly lower Reflective.

  • In an analysis of the overall sample, Posttraumatic Growth is negatively correlated with Reflective Rumination, Resilience is correlated with Optimism