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Omega (Westport). 2014;69(2):151-68. doi: 10.2190/OM.69.2.d.

From suicide survivor to peer counselor: breaking the silence of suicide bereavement.

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Psychologist in Private Practice, Ontario.
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.
McGill Group for Suicide Studies, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Douglas Mental Health University Institute.


This study sought to explore the phenomenon of peer counseling in suicide bereavement by addressing the question, what are the lived experiences of suicide survivors who become peer counselors? Participants were 15 individuals bereaved through suicide who had been volunteering with others bereaved in the same manner. This research employed the interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach to provide a detailed description of participants' journeys that went from experiencing the suicide of a loved one, to the decision to become a peer counselor, to, finally, providing support to other survivors. The findings suggest that participants understand the provision of peer counseling as a transformative process. Being a peer counselor means actively challenging the silence around suicide by speaking out about suicide-related issues and offering other survivors a safe space to share their stories. The broader implications of these findings for suicide postvention research and clinical practice are addressed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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