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‘We do it to keep him alive’: bereaved individuals’ experiences of online suicide memorials and continuing bonds

Bell, Jo; Bailey, Louis; Kennedy, David


Louis Bailey

David Kennedy


This paper presents draws on interviews with individuals who have experience of creating, maintaining and utilising Facebook sites in memory of a loved one who has died by suicide. We argue that Facebook enables the deceased to be an on-going active presence in the lives of the bereaved. We highlight the potential of the Internet (and Facebook in particular) as a new and emerging avenue for the continuation of online identities and continuing bonds. Our study offers unique insight into survivors’ experiences of engaging with the virtual presence of their deceased loved one: how mourners come and go online, how this evolves over time and how the online identity of the deceased evolves even after death. We discuss how Facebook provides new ways for people to experience and negotiate death by suicide and to memorialise the deceased, highlighting the positive impact of this for survivors’ mental health. Finally, we describe the creation of tension amongst those who manage their grief in different ways.


Bell, J., Bailey, L., & Kennedy, D. (2015). ‘We do it to keep him alive’: bereaved individuals’ experiences of online suicide memorials and continuing bonds. Mortality, 20(4), 375-389.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Sep 21, 2015
Publication Date Oct 2, 2015
Deposit Date Dec 15, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Mortality
Print ISSN 1357-6275
Electronic ISSN 1469-9885
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 4
Pages 375-389
Keywords Facebook; Suicide; Memorialisation; Internet; Continuing bonds; Grief; Bereavement; Online identity
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copy of article first published in: Mortality, 2015, v.20, issue 4.


Article.pdf (362 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2015 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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