Child and Adolescent Survivors of Suicide

  • Bonnie Frank Carter
  • Allan Brooks


Loss of loved ones due to death has been empirically ranked among the highest stresses possible, both for adults and adolescents (Holmes & Rahe, 1967; Rogan & Hussey, 1977). We must recognize, however, that the difficulties a suicide death poses for children and adolescents extend far beyond the short-term stress of the immediate confrontation with death. Death by suicide adds the exacerbating factors of inadequate or inaccurate information; stigmatization with its emotional distancing from relatives, friends, and other potentially supportive individuals, both young and old; and seemingly unacceptable feelings of guilt and anger that complicate the already painful experience of sudden and absolute loss. Grief is a normal process, necessary and predictable after loss, but its impact on children and adolescents has often been overlooked, and the further jolt ensuing from suicide survivorship can have physical and emotional consequences, even in children who otherwise seem normal. Although increasing in use, the term “suicide survivor” continues to present some confusion (as discussed by Dunne, McIntosh, & Dunne-Maxim, 1987). Any discussion of this subject must begin with the clarification that a survivor of suicide is someone left behind to deal with the psychological distress and daily turmoil in the aftermath of a completed suicide. This is distinct from a parasuicide, an individual who attempts suicide and survives. While certain aspects of the emotional pain may be similar, a survivor of suicide is typically not someone who has attempted suicide.


Child Psychiatry Suicidal Tendency Young Survivor Bereave Child Adolescent Survivor 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bonnie Frank Carter
    • 1
  • Allan Brooks
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryAlbert Einstein Medical CenterPhiladelphiaUSA

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