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School after suicide: children and young peoples experience in education after losing a parent to suicide

Baxter, Paula (2019) School after suicide: children and young peoples experience in education after losing a parent to suicide. DEdCPsy thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This research aims to highlight child and young people’s (CYP) experience in education following the suicide of a parent. Research suggests that children and young survivors of suicide continue to be profoundly affected long after the suicide itself. They are more at risk from the effects of complicated grief such as, but not limited to, poor academic performance, depression, self-harm and indeed suicide. Children and young people who have experienced suicide are part of a vulnerable group who can feel marginalized. Nevertheless, research surrounding their experience is minimal. The research hopes to raise awareness and shape how education professionals support and respond to children and young people after being bereaved from suicide. This study employed a narrative approach from a social constructionist perspective to hear and give power to the young voice. Participants were enrolled with the help and support of a well- known UK charity who support bereaved children. There were 3 participants: a 16-year-old female who was 15 and in year ten just starting her GCSEs when her mother died by suicide; a 19-year-old male who was 16 and in his final year of GCSEs when his father died by suicide; a 20-year-old male who was 18 and in college when his father died by suicide. All three had individual charity support workers who were available to be in the room with the participants throughout the research for support if needed. The research aimed to represent each experience and so stories were analysed and presented separately in episodes of ‘life before,’ ‘the discovery’ and ‘the aftermath. Themes were generated for each story which highlights the complexities of suicide bereavement. There were similar themes throughout all three stories which are also discussed. Also, participants highlighted what support they would like to see put in place to help other children who are bereaved by suicide. This research gives an insight into the complexities regarding grief and distress surrounding suicide bereavement. It highlights positive and negative experiences in education following the bereavement, and the detrimental implication suicide can have upon education attainment. The current research argues there is a need for professionals specifically education professionals to have an awareness of the complexities throughout all episodes of the child/young person experience. To illuminate this the web of complexities was developed highlighting factors that may lead to feelings of isolation, and entrapment (two things that arguably contribute to suicide). The aim to help professionals develop individual postvention support with specific areas to focus. This alone may arguably help prevent a further tragic cycle of unnecessary deaths and devastation from suicide. It should be noted that this was a small study and difficulties due to ethical approval limited access to participants of 16 and above. Further studies exploring a wider range of ages and experiences would be beneficial. In addition to other research to help evaluate the effectiveness of postvention for young survivors of suicide.

Item Type: Thesis (DEdCPsy)
Keywords: suicide, bereavement, education
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.784705
Depositing User: miss Paula Baxter
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2019 12:11
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 20:08
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24689

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