Effects of Parental Suicide on the Adolescent Survivors' Lives When They Are Adults


Yesim Saatci

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)



Date of Award

Fall 2013


This qualitative inquiry, phenomenology, purported to provide insight into the role of parental suicide on the adolescent survivors' adult lives between 18 and 40. This study described the survivors' coping strategies, self-esteem, and effects of their grief and bereavement as a result of parental suicide on their emotional wellness or disturbances. Unique characteristics of parental suicide and what it brings into the families and lives of the survivors were explored. Results showed that there was a clear connection between the four participants, regarding their lived experiences, who demonstrated commonalities through these nine categories: Cognitions, feelings, behavior, coping, self-esteem, family environment, contributing factors, social stigma, and treatment recommendations for survivors when they are adolescents and adults in their grief resolution process. All participants talked about living through chaotic and abusive family patterns in their adolescence prior to the suicides in their families. They also reported that these unhealthy relationships and stressful environments affected their psychosocial development and self-esteem negatively at the time of the parental suicides. All participants discussed the proclivity of developing an introverted personality as an effect of parental suicide due to social stigma. All participants explained that their struggles and constant questioning (Freeman, 2005) regarding their parents' suicides continued throughout life. Some of the participants suffered from depression, anxiety and insomnia and used medications for them. One of the participants was hospitalized. The results indicated that parental suicide did not induce suicidal behavior among the participants; nevertheless, the participants struggled for many years to recover. Parental suicide had many negative effects on the survivors. The study found, perhaps unexpectedly, that this devastating experience produced a few exceptional positive effects, as well. It is premature to conclude that the effects of parental suicide pose no harmful psychological risks for adolescent and young adult survivors. The findings suggested that among survivors, parental suicide may be negatively associated with well-being and positively associated with psychological distress and health problems.


Stephen Freeman

Subject Categories

Counseling | Social and Behavioral Sciences