Condolences and religious sentiment cool comfort to families bereaved by suicide

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In a paper to be presented at the 40th Annual Conference of the Australian Psychological Society, psychologists will identify the most effective strategies for supporting bereaved families of suicide victims.

“Suicide is at epidemic levels, and mental health workers are at the front line of supporting the families left behind.

“By better understanding the grieving process and the unique experience of grieving for a person who has taken their own life, we can ensure we offer best-practice advice to our clients to help them through this difficult time” said the paper’s author, Mary Murray.

The research found that the most affective form of therapy for the sample group was talking about their experience with similarly bereaved people.

“Support groups and specialised organisations who provide networks for people with similar experiences are probably the most helpful methods of therapy for families dealing with a suicide bereavement.

“It is therefore vital that psychologists, counsellors and other therapists inform themselves about these groups in order to refer their clients.”

Conversely, the research found that the least helpful support took the form of general ‘condolences accompanied by suggestions of religious comfort’.

“Knowing what is most effective in helping a family bereaved by suicide will assist counsellors in future to be more confident in directing the focus of their therapy,” concludes Mary Murray.

Psychologist Mary Murray is available for interview on her research from Deakin University, will be presented on Friday 30 September during the 40th Annual Conference of the Australian Psychological Society.

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For further information or to arrange an interview: Contact Elaine Grant 0412 683 068.

The 40th Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference, this month from 28 September- 2 October at Crown Promenade, Melbourne, Australia.

Themed Past Reflections, Future Directions, the five-day program includes international scholars and psychologists, interactive workshops, themed days and streams provided by APS Colleges and Divisions, research papers and symposia and fora.