Department of Emergency Medicine
Family, Life Course, and Society | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychological Phenomena and Processes | Psychology | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies
PURPOSE: Suicide bereavement confers unique risk and distress. In several countries, bereaved family members are called on to attend an inquest, an official public inquiry into deaths caused by external factors. The current study aimed to explore how suicide-bereaved family members (n = 18) experienced the inquest process, through qualitative semi-structured interviews.
METHOD: Participants were identified via coroner's records and had previously taken part in a case-control study.
RESULTS: Qualitative findings indicated four overall themes with respect to family members' experiences of the inquest process: "inquest as fearfully unknown", "structural processes of the inquest", "enduring public and private pain to obtain answers" and "gaining answers and making sense". Most family members experienced distress and fear as a result of several elements of the inquest process. Some participants had positive experiences but these did not outweigh the distress experienced by the majority of family members regarding their overall experience of the inquest process.
CONCLUSIONS: Key recommendations include informing family members of the main aspects and purpose of the inquest process beforehand, adapting the process to maximise the privacy and comfort of the bereaved relatives, and restricting graphic evidence being heard, where possible, to minimise distress experienced by family members.
Inquest, bereavement, coroner, family members, qualitative, suicide
Rights and Permissions
© 2019 The Author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
DOI of Published Version
Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being. 2019 Dec;14(1):1563430. doi: 10.1080/17482631.2018.1563430. Link to article on publisher's site
International journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being
Spillane A, Matvienko-Sikar K, Larkin C, Corcoran P, Arensman E. (2019). How suicide-bereaved family members experience the inquest process: a qualitative study using thematic analysis. Open Access Articles. https://doi.org/10.1080/17482631.2018.1563430. Retrieved from https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/oapubs/3982
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Family, Life Course, and Society Commons, Mental and Social Health Commons, Psychological Phenomena and Processes Commons, Psychology Commons, Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies Commons