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Supporting young men who are affected by suicide

People cope with grief in different ways, and the same holds true following a suicide. Many people will experience a broad range of emotions including, anger, hurt and sadness.

Although each person experiences grief in their own way, some common patterns occur. In his latest research, Victoria University of Wellington School of Education Lecturer Dr Chris Bowden examined the grief experienced by young men aged 18-25.

Chris is part of a network that responds following a suicide to provide ‘post-vention’ (as opposed to prevention) advice to schools. This network also includes the Traumatic Incident team from the Ministry of Education.

In his research into young men who had lost a friend to suicide, Chris found they were likely to experience four different types of silence as part of their grieving process.

I was trying to get to the heart of what they experienced, what was common amongst all of them. That’s what phenomenology is about, it’s about getting to the essence of their experience, and silence was at the heart of that.

Dr Chris Bowden

Previous studies have found that some people bereaved by suicide experience stigma. Silence is part of that stigma, but these young men experienced different types of silence. This is new knowledge.

Dr Chris Bowden

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