Exposure to suicide and identification as survivor: Results from a random-digit dial survey

Julie Cerel, Myfanwy Maple, Rosalie Aldrich, Judy van de Venne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Background: There is little empirical evidence regarding lifetime exposure to suicide or identification of those impacted by suicide deaths. Studies previously conducted used only convenience samples. To determine the prevalence of suicide exposure in the community and those affected by suicide deaths. A random digit dial sample of 302 adults. 64% of the sample knew someone who had attempted or died by suicide, and 40% knew someone who died by suicide. No demographic variables differentiated exposed versus unexposed, indicating that exposure to suicide cuts across demographics. Almost 20% said they were a "survivor" and had been significantly affected by a suicide death. Demographic variables did not differentiate groups. The relationship to the decedent was not related to self-identified survivor status; what did differentiate those individuals impacted by the death from those who did not was their perception of their relationship with the decedent. Kinship proximity and relationship category to the deceased appeared to be unrelated to survivor status, but perceived psychological closeness to the deceased showed a robust association with self-identified survivor status. We need an expanded definition of "suicide survivor" to account for the profound impact of suicide in the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-419
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013


  • Exposure
  • Suicide bereavement
  • Survivor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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