First Advisor

Rings, Jeffrey

First Committee Member

Tian, Lu

Second Committee Member

Vaughan, Angela

Third Committee Member

Dunn, Thomas

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Document Type


Date Created



College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Applied Psychology and Counselor Education, APCE Student Work


Suicide is both a severe and pervasive issue in our society (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2023b). For every suicide, the loved ones of the deceased who are left behind face a long, arduous journey of grieving. Suicide loss survivors who emerged throughout the COVID-19 pandemic arguably encountered more unique challenges during this global crisis than in times past. However, research regarding suicide loss survivorship experiences during the pandemic remains largely overlooked. Therefore, this novel qualitative phenomenological study aimed to capture the lived experiences of those who became suicide loss survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to what postvention support that they both sought and received. This study consisted of nine suicide loss survivors whose experiences were explored through semi-structured interviews. The subsequent interview data were analyzed using a descriptive phenomenological framework (Giorgi, 2009). This study’s findings illuminated the following six themes: (a) the emotional turbulence of suicide loss survivorship during a pandemic, (b) coping individually with suicide loss during a pandemic, (c) social support systems as sources of strength and resilience, (d) therapy as a conduit for healing, (e) barriers to grieving together with loved ones, and (f) the forging of newfound relationships and the deepening of existent bonds. The findings of this study highlight implications for future research directions regarding suicide loss survivorship, pandemic-related or otherwise. Additionally included are clinical implications for mental health providers who likely will end up working with clients whose loved ones died by suicide during the pandemic.

Abstract Format



248 pages

Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.