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Suicide Survivor Guilt

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Jane Tillman, PhD, ABPPIn response to a recent article in The New York Times, Dr. Jane G. Tillman, Evelyn Stefansson Nef Director of the Erikson Institute for Education and Research, wrote the following:

“Research shows that survivors of suicide report experiencing more shame, blame, guilt, need for concealing the cause of death, and stigma than do those who are bereaved by other forms of traumatic death. 

Additionally, a family history of suicide is a risk factor for suicide, leaving survivors as collateral damage in the wake of a family suicide. The lingering effect of suicide on individuals, families, and communities through contagion, grief, and increased risk for suicide is a serious problem. 

My research on psychotherapists who have had a patient die by suicide while in treatment shows that many experience the event as a traumatic one that may alter their willingness to treat suicidal patients and often leads to ongoing personal and professional distress.”

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