NCDE Summer Institute – Grief After Suicide: Walking the Journey With Survivors

July 24, 2013

National Center for Death Education 2013 Summer Institute

Speaker: Jack Jordan, Ph.D.


Workshop Description

The suicide of a loved one can have a profound and sometimes devastating impact on those left behind, called suicide survivors. Bereavement after suicide may entail high levels of disorientation, guilt, regret, anger, and trauma. Survivors may also find their relationships with other people changed, as they struggle with the social stigma often placed on suicide, and the social ambiguity created in relationships with social networks after a suicide. Family relationships may also be significantly changed by the feelings of guilt, blame, and failure that suicide may engender. Survivors may also be at risk for elevated rates of complicated grief and future suicidality themselves. All of this makes surviving the suicide of a loved one a potentially life-transforming ordeal that requires a level of support that goes beyond traditional grief counseling. Topics to be covered will include:

A brief review of the epidemiology of suicide and suicide survivors, and the risks associated with exposure to suicide of a loved one

What research with survivors tells us is needed

Principles and examples of longer term clinical work with survivors

A brief review of the epidemiology of suicide and suicide survivors, and the risks associated with exposure to suicide of a loved one

The psychological impact of suicide on survivors and common themes in the bereavement of survivors, including family functioning

General principles of grief therapy and specific clinical techniques that can be of use after traumatic losses
Educational Goals

1. Identify at least five common themes in bereavement after suicide.

2. Describe several tasks of psychological re-integration after suicide.

3. Describe principles of clinical work with suicide survivors


John (Jack) Jordan is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Wellesley, MA, and Pawtucket, RI, where he specializes in working with loss and bereavement. He was the Founder and the Director until 2007 of the Family Loss Project, a research and clinical practice providing services for bereaved families. He has specialized in work with survivors of suicide and other losses for more than 30 years. As a Fellow in Thanatology from the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC), Jack maintains an active practice in grief counseling for individuals and couples. He has run support groups for bereaved parents, young widows & widowers, and suicide survivors, with the latter running for over 13 years.

Jack is the Clinical Consultant for Grief Support Services of the Samaritans in Boston where he is helping to develop innovative outreach and support programs for suicide survivors. Jack is also the Professional Advisor to the Survivor Council of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Jack has published over 35 clinical and research articles, chapters, and full books in the areas of bereavement after suicide, support group models, the integration of research and practice in thanatology, and loss in family and larger social systems. He is the co-author, with Bob Baugher, of After Suicide Loss: Coping with Your Grief, a book on suicide bereavement for surviving friends and family. He is the co-editor, with John McIntosh, of the new book Grief After Suicide: Coping with the Consequences and Caring for the Survivors, a professional book on the impact of suicide and interventions to help suicide survivors. For further information: