A comparison study on mental health status between suicide survivors and survivors of accidental deaths in rural China

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Abstract

Accessible summary

  • There has been ongoing debate regarding the bereavement process of suicide survivors and whether it differs with that of survivors of other types of deaths.
  • No significant differences were found on mental health status between suicide survivors and survivors of those who have died from accidental death.
  • Culture might play an important role in this lack of differences.

Abstract

Suicide has become a major public health problem worldwide. For every suicide there are six suicide survivors, a term referring to family members or friends of a person who has died by suicide. Within the literature there has been ongoing debate regarding the bereavement process and if it differs in survivors of suicide as opposed to survivors of those who have died from accidental death. There are scarcely any published reports on comparison between these two groups of survivors in China. In this study, we aimed to explore the difference of mental health status between suicide survivors and survivors of accidental deaths in China. We used a cross-sectional study design to collect data of survivors. Consecutive sampling was used and 92 suicide survivors and 64 survivors of accidental deaths were interviewed. The Symptom Checklist-90-Revised was used to assess the survivors' mental health status. After controlling for demographic variables and time interval between death and interview, no significant differences were found on mental health status between these two groups of survivors. Several explanations might account for the lack of differences. Further studies employing qualitative measures and suicide-specific instruments are needed to explore the bereavement of Chinese suicide survivors.

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