Feelings of Blameworthiness and Their Associations With the Grieving Process in Suicide Mourning

William Feigelman, Julie Cerel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Aims: This study focuses on identifying the correlates associated with the emergence of feelings of blameworthiness associated with a suicide or other traumatic death and its associations with grief complications. Methods: Based on a mailed questionnaire survey of 575 mostly white and economically advantaged bereaved parents, 462 who lost a child to suicide, 48 to a drug overdose, 37 to ordinary accidents, and 24 to natural causes, we utilized chi-square tests, correlations and multiple regression analysis to compare and contrast patterns in the data. Results: Findings showed feelings of blameworthiness associated with grief difficulties, complicated grief, PTSD, depression and other mental health difficulties among suicide bereaved parents. Results among suicide bereaved parents also showed that being stigmatized by socially significant others, having a mixed or negative relationship with the deceased child prior to the death and a less happy marriage, among those presently married couples, all contributed to higher feelings of blameworthiness among these bereaved. Conclusion: Based on these findings, feelings of blameworthiness could serve as a good shorthand indicator of grief problems since it correlates so well with other grief difficulties and mental health problem measures. The importance of peer support is essential for avoiding the downward spiral associated with feelings of blameworthiness that can occur at any time during the grieving process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number610
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - Apr 21 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2020 Feigelman and Cerel.


  • blameworthiness
  • complex grief
  • grief difficulties
  • guilt feelings
  • suicide bereavement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Feelings of Blameworthiness and Their Associations With the Grieving Process in Suicide Mourning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this