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Making sense of it all : an interpretative phenomenological analysis of bereaved survivors’ coping experiences following intimate partner suicide

Torres, Samantha Angela


Samantha Angela Torres


Julie Jomeen

Debra K. Creedy


Suicide is a national and global concern. Men continue to die by suicide at higher rates compared to women. The burden of grief associated with loss of a partner to suicide may go unreported by survivors. This study aimed to explore the coping experiences of survivors following the suicide of their intimate partners. The research question was: How do bereaved survivors make sense of their coping experiences following intimate partner suicide?

Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) enables inquiry into individuals’ perceptions of their everyday lived experience particularly in the context of a past significant experience such as being bereaved by suicide. IPA as a methodology was also well situated within my epistemological position as an interpretative constructivist and the theoretical frameworks of phenomenology, hermeneutics and ideography that underpin its approach.

Eight women bereaved by intimate partner suicide took part in the study. Data were collected using semi-structured in-depth interviews. Participants were interviewed once as this data collection method provided rich first-hand accounts of each participant’s lived experience.

Five super-ordinate themes were identified. (1) Manageability identified how participants reacted to their suicide related grief and support. (2) Attaching meaning involved rumination, ascribed purpose to survival, and changing relationships with others. (3) Relating to others highlighted participants’ need for humanistic processes during interactions, identifying with other survivors, and develop compassion for others. (4) Changed perceptions of self became evident both as a person and in considering new possibilities in life. (5) A new philosophy of life reflected a changed sense of what is important, establishing new priorities, and living in the ‘here and now’.

Coping was complex, differed amongst participants, and went beyond the parameters often specified in the bereavement literature. Complex elements associated with managing life, ascribed meaning, relationships with others and a changed ‘self’ were unique findings. While negative or harmful coping strategies were discussed, participants also highlighted their resilience and clearly articulated what was helpful and what hindered their coping. The findings contributed to the development of the Intimate Partner Suicide Bereavement Coping Model (IPSBCM) to help shape supportive practices and models of care to support survivors at different stages of their suicide-related grief.


Torres, S. A. (2018). Making sense of it all : an interpretative phenomenological analysis of bereaved survivors’ coping experiences following intimate partner suicide. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Nov 8, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Nursing
Public URL
Additional Information School of Health and Social Work, The University of Hull
Award Date Mar 1, 2018


Thesis (18.8 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2018 Torres, Samantha Angela. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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