Data Donation & The Grieving Process

The term “suicide survivor” has come to refer to a person who is grieving after the suicide of a loved one, not someone who has survived a suicide attempt.

Suicide survivors have an elevated risk of suicidality, and their experiences of grief are “qualitatively different than grief after other causes of death.” (Young, Iglewicz, Glorioso, Lanouette, Seay, Ilapakurti, & Zisook, 2012: 178). While it is agreed within suicidology that more qualitative and quantitative research into suicide survivor bereavement is needed, the available literature and clinical studies suggest that suicide bereavement contains thematic issues that are more prominent and intense (Jordan, 2008 and Begley & Quayle, 2007). Firstly, most suicide survivors are plagued by the need to make sense of death and to understand why suicide completers made the decision to end their life. Secondly, often there is an eventual realization of ‘purposefulness’ in the lives of survivors following a death. These two themes of survivor bereavement were instrumental to the platform’s development and are its core foundation.

While the narrative of suicide survival is not concrete, there is also a lack of empirical evidence as to what interventions specifically help suicide survivors (Jordan, McMenamy, 2004). What appears to offer some value though is contact with other survivors, most often through participation in peer or professionally led support groups. One suicide survivor data donor I spoke with, had lost her brother to suicide and had since become involved with helping others who have a shared experience. She was a complete advocate for data donation and told me that it was an essential part of her grieving process. She was driven by a strong desire to do something to help others that had shared experiences of loss and to change the narrative of both suicide and suicide bereavement. Our Data Helps, therefore, not only offered hope and understanding regarding suicide prevention, but it acted as a motif of prospect for the suicide survivor community. This further demonstrated how social media, online groups, and internet platforms have become resources for support.

However, the gifting of personal data to Our Data Helps as an element of suicide bereavement is not valid for everyone.