Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies


Holistic Health

First Advisor

Stasia Johnson Steinhagen


Holistic Health Studies


Nearly 48,000 people in the US died by suicide in 2022, creating as many as three million suicide survivors. Grief can cause significant life disruptions, increased risks for depression, suicidal ideation, and physical health issues. Furthermore, stigma, shame, rejection, and lack of social support exacerbate suicide survivors’ grief. Researchers find that self-disclosure (SD) and social support (SS) mitigate these risks. However, current research describes SD and SS through high-level self-report surveys. Therefore, we use phenomenological inquiry to discover what aspects of self-disclosure and social support experiences are helpful in suicide survivors’ grief journey. Thirteen suicide survivors responded to writing prompts. Responses were analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis. Social support themes include check-ins, understanding that grief is individual, professional help, sharing stories, and presence. Self- disclosure themes include listening, sharing on their timeline, validating the loss, and connecting with others of similar experience. The findings of this study highlight the importance of connecting with those bereaved by suicide, which could decrease the mental and physical health risks of suicide survivors. Implications of this study include the need to increase mental health support and education specifically addressing suicide survivorship. Suicide survivors need considerable support that is unique to them. They deserve support that is helpful, compassionate, non-judgmental, and accessible. In this study, suicide survivors tell us how to do that.

Available for download on Friday, May 23, 2025