Bearing witness: A grounded theory of the experiences of staff at two United Kingdom Higher Education Institutions following a student death by suicide

Causer, Hilary, Bradley, Eleanor, Muse, Kate ORCID: 0000-0001-5824-1841 and Smith, Jo (2021) Bearing witness: A grounded theory of the experiences of staff at two United Kingdom Higher Education Institutions following a student death by suicide. PLoS One, 16 (5). e0251369.

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Abstract

Wider networks of people are affected by a suicide death than originally thought, including those whose job-role brings them into contact with a death by suicide of another person. The impact of student suicide within United Kingdom (UK) Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is unexplored and the experiences of staff members remain unknown. It is not known whether staff members have specific postvention needs following a student death by suicide. Any postvention support currently offered to staff members within UK HEIs lacks a context-specific evidence base. This study asked ?How is a student suicide experienced by staff members within a UK HEI and what are the features of that experience?? Staff members from diverse job-roles in two UK HEIs responded to a qualitative survey (n=19) and participated in semi-structured interviews (n=10). Data were transcribed and subjected to a constructivist grounded theory analysis. Participants? experiences informed the development of a core category: 'Bearing witness', which encompassed six further categories: 'Responding to a student suicide'; 'Experiencing a student suicide'; 'Needs and fears'; 'Experiences of support'; 'Human stories'; and 'Cultural stories'. The resulting grounded theory demonstrates how participants? perceptions of impact are informed by their experiences of undertaking tasks following a student suicide within the community of their HEI. Processes of constructing perceptions of closeness to the student who died are evident amongst participants who did not know the student prior to their death. Tailored postvention support is required to respond to the range and complexity of HEI staff needs following a student death by suicide.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Natural & Social Sciences > Psychological Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2022 12:16
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2022 12:16
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/10987

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