Surviving Suicide: Isolated by Social Stigmas Essay

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Surviving Suicide: Isolated by Social Stigmas

Suicide is the eleventh most common cause of death in the United States. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a person takes their own life once every fourteen minutes in the United States (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention [AFSP], 2011). Still, with suicide rates so high, suicide is a taboo topic in our society. Though suicide is intended to end one person’s pain, it causes an immeasurable amount of pain and suffering to loved ones close to the deceased. In 1972, Albert Cain laid the ground work for the psychology of those coping with suicide in his work Survivors of Suicide. Up to that time, there had been almost no research of the topic of suicide
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Suicide survivors often feel shame due to stigmas, feelings of abandonment or rejection by the deceased, and blame for the suicide (Aguirre and Slater, 2010). There are many social stigmas surrounding suicide, stigmas that cause an unusual grief cycle to those left behind. Sociologically, stigma is defined as “a deeply discrediting attribute, reducing a person from a whole and usual person to a tainted and discounted one” (Fiegelman, et al, 2009). Historically, there has always been a stigma attached to suicide, suicide is labeled as sinful or self murder, and suicide survivors are often blamed that their loved on would want to inflict such pain on themselves. Widows of suicide were historically viewed as bad luck. Often, suicide survivors feel isolated in their emotions. For family members left behind after suicide, the pain, the suffering, the wondering why remains, sometimes for the rest of their lives (Fiegelman, et al, 2009). Issues related to stigmas and social responses to suicidal death have been the subject of various research and several studies that have found that suicide survivors report less social support and feelings of rejection both within the family and community (Fiegelman, et al, 2009; Sands and Tennant, 2010). Due to stigmatization, blame, guilt, and strain on

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