This qualitative case study describes the disparate experiences of how three siblings reacted and were affected by their father's suicide death. Specifically, through individual interviews, this study explores the siblings' individual memories, emotions, and perceptions of support connected with the time directly before and after their father's death. In addition, the researchers considered the long-term effects of their father's death by suicide as lived by the sibling survivors. In seeking to understand the siblings' experiences, this study also explores each sibling's reaction as they were presented with a group of children's picture books that were developed to help children express their emotions and are used by therapists who counsel with children bereaved by suicide. Findings suggested that, although the siblings shared the trauma of the father's suicide, each had different perceptions and experiences surrounding that trauma; they also reacted differently to the books presented to them. Implications for practice for teachers, parents, and school-based mental health practitioners (e.g., school psychologist and school counselors) are provided. These implications include the importance of knowing the specifics of each child's perceptions and providing supportive interventions that match the individual child's needs. Also, when selecting therapeutic books to share with a grieving child, consider presenting options and allowing the child to select a book. Also, be aware that a book that is preferred by one child, may not be preferred by another. Additionally, certain pictures included in children's books may trigger memories of the parent's suicide that could potentially further traumatize the child.
College and Department
David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Cotten, Caitlin, "Individual Experience, Individualized Help: A Case Study of Three Siblings Whose Father Died by Suicide" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 9079.
parent suicide, child survivor, mental health support, trauma, bibliotherapy, qualitative case study