Suicide exposure experience screener for use in therapeutic settings: A validation report

Myfanwy Maple, Julie Cerel, Rebecca Sanford, Fiona Shand, Philip J. Batterham, Navjot Bhullar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: A brief screener assessing experience of exposure to suicide for use in therapeutic settings is warranted. To examine the concurrent validity of such a screening tool, labeled as the Suicide Exposure Experience Screener (SEES), the associations of the two SEES items: (i) reported closeness with the person who died by suicide and (ii) perceived impact of suicide death with psychological distress are presented. Methods: Five separate datasets comprising surveys from Australia, Canada, and the United States (Ncombined = 7782) were used to provide evidence of concurrent validity of closeness and impact of suicide exposure. Results: Overall, closeness and impact were significantly correlated with measures of global distress across five different datasets, showing small to medium effect sizes. Closeness and impact were also intercorrelated demonstrating a large effect size across all surveys. This report used cross-sectional data and comprised varied sample sizes across different datasets that influenced statistical significance of obtained effects and did not tease apart the roles of cumulative exposure of suicide and prolonged bereavement in experiencing global distress. Conclusion: The SEES has clinical utility in determining psychological distress in bereaved individuals and is recommended for use in therapeutic settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-982
Number of pages8
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
SPA Survey: Funding: No funding was received for this project. MM was a member elected director on the Board of Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) when the SPA survey was distributed. Her role did not influence the survey. Enquires related to data availability to MM. Ethics approval was obtained through the University of New England (HE16‐030). SANE Carer Survey: Funding: Funding was received from Ian Potter Foundation and Grenet Merrin Foundations. Enquires related to data availability to MM. The project received ethics approval via the University of New England ethics committee (HE17‐210). LifeSpan Community Survey: Funding: Paul Ramsay Foundation and Australian Capital Territory Health. Enquires related to data availability to FS. The study received ethics approval from the HNELHD HREC (HREC/16/HNE/399). Canadian Suicide Exposure Survey: Funding: Thompson Rivers University Internal Research Fund. Enquires related to data availability to RS. The project received ethics approval from Thompson Rivers University (101939). University of Kentucky Military Suicide Survey: This work was in part supported by the Military Suicide Research Consortium (MSRC), an effort supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs under Award Nos. W81XWH‐10‐2‐0178 and W81XWH‐10‐2‐0181. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the MSRC or the Department of Defense. The authors report no other conflict of interests or disclosures. Enquires related to data availability to JC. This study was approved by the University of Kentucky IRB (12‐0148‐F2L) and reviewed by Department of Defense's Human Research Protection Office.

Funding Information:
Open access publishing facilitated by University of New England, as part of the Wiley - University of New England agreement via the Council of Australian University Librarians.

Funding Information:
PJB is supported by National Health & Medical Research Council Fellowship 1158707

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Association of Suicidology.


  • bereavement
  • closeness
  • impact
  • psychological distress
  • scale validation
  • suicide exposure
  • therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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