(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
One out of 12 family members whose relative has committed suicide kill themselves – 80 times the 0.1% rate in other Israeli families – according to a new study at the behavioral sciences department of the Ruppin Academic Center.
The study was carried out among a representative sample of 200 surviving families who are members of the Bishvit Ha’hayim (Association for the Living), which will hold a conference called “Life after Suicide” at Tel Aviv’s Beit Hatfutsot on January 14.
In the study, led by Dr. Yossi Levy-Belz, head of the department and a member of the board of directors of the Bishvit Ha’hayim (Association for the Living), it was found that 8% of families suffer recurrent suicide.
The study also found that 20% of family-suicide survivors reported that they had a concrete suicide plan, 38% reported suicidal thoughts and 70% had depression at least once over the past year (a fifth of them suffering from major depression over the past year).
Another finding was that when families who suffered such a tragic loss managed meaningfully to share their sorrows with other people, they coped with their loss much better.
The association’s annual family conference in Tel Aviv will discuss “How to Talk about Suicide with Those Around Us.” The main lecture will be delivered by Dr. Etty Avlin – a clinical social worker, lecturer and bereavement expert – on families whose loved ones committed suicide and experience a double loss – the death of a family member as well as the loss and shame they experience from the attitude of “judgmental” people they encounter who hear about their tragedy.
Dr. Avshalom Aderet, chairman of theBishvit Ha’hayim (Association for the Living), said: “Many studies show that when relatives talk about the trauma they have suffered, it helps to cope with the pain and bereavement...seclusion and silence only increase their suffering.”
Levy-Belz, a clinical psychologist, added: “Coping with the suicide of a family member creates feelings of guilt, shame and loneliness.
One of the phenomena that explain the high percentage of suicide attempts among the families of suicide is the interaction and dialogue with the environment.
Most families are afraid to tell the real story surrounding the loss of their loved ones.
“In many cases, the family’s discourse with their surroundings may ease the emotional burden and even prevent suicide attempts, especially by parents of those who committed suicide,” he said.