East Asian Arch Psychiatry 2018;28:106

BOOK REVIEW

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Postvention in Action: The International Handbook of Suicide Bereavement Support

Editors: Karl Andriessen, Karolina Krysinska, Onja T Grad
Hogrefe Publishing
ISBN: 0889374937


 

According to the World Health Organization, suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide in 2015, making it the 17th leading cause of death. Although suicide is an individual act, it occurs in a social and cultural context. It is inevitable that suicidal death will cast a significant and long-lasting impact on the bereaved. To address the needs of people affected by suicide bereavement, we need to understand the factors related to persisting distress and what kind of intervention (ie, postvention) is effective for what kind of needs. The study of factors that contribute to resilience and recovery helps to formulate social and health policy that in turn assists adaptive adjustment of the bereaved. This book attempts to provide a comprehensive coverage of topics related to suicide bereavement by gathering the contribution from 94 experts worldwide who provide support for suicide bereavement.

This book is easy to read with a concise table of contents and overview of tables and figures. Readers can easily locate a topic of interest and refer to the appropriate chapter. This book covers four major areas: current knowledge and implications for support, suicide bereavement support in different settings, suicide bereavement support in different populations, and help for those bereaved by suicide in different countries. Most chapters provide a concise account of the topic. Each chapter comprises an abstract, introduction, main content, and conclusion, all of which facilitate easy reading. The use of vignettes to illustrate the experience of suicide bereavement is helpful and attention-grabbing.

An overview of suicide bereavement and its impact on mental and physical health provides the rationale underlying the importance of suicide bereavement. The introduction of postvention approaches such as meaning-making and growing flower model helps to illustrate multifaceted areas that may need to be addressed in suicide bereavement. The chapter that focuses on suicide bereavement support in different settings offers insights into how general suicide bereavement support can be provided at a community level (eg, peer support group, general practitioner and online platform). The collection of manuscripts by researchers describing suicide bereavement support work in different parts of the world is impressive.

This book is not a complete guide for understanding evidence-based practice for suicide bereavement. Suicide bereavement is a traumatic experience that inevitably causes distress. Nonetheless, not everyone affected will develop mental illness. Nor will bereavement counselling or a support group be appropriate for everyone affected because grief counselling for normal bereavement may cause harm. Some outcome studies have suggested that bereavement counselling can do more harm than good if it is of poor quality or the wrong type. In particular, this book has not covered evidence-based assessment and treatment for mental disorders associated with suicide bereavement (eg, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or prolonged grief disorder).

Kitty K Wu, MSocSc (Clin Psy), PhD (Melbourne), FHKPS, FCCLP (APS), Registered Clinical Psychologist (HKPS) (UK) (AUS) (email: wukyk@ha.org.hk)

Princess Margaret Hospital Hong Kong SAR, China 106

The 2018 HKCPsych International Mental Health Congress
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