Children who experience parental death are at increased risk for suicide. The Family Bereavement Program (FBP) is an upstream preventive intervention for parentally bereaved families that was found to reduce suicide risk in parentally bereaved youth up to 6 and 15 years later. We tested whether FBP-induced improvements in effective parenting led to changes in multiple proximal factors that prior theory and research implicated in the cascading pathway to suicide risk, namely, aversive self-views, caregiver connectedness, peer connectedness, complicated grief, depressive symptoms, and emotion suppression. The sample was 244 bereaved youth and their surviving caregiver from 156 families. Families were randomized into the FBP (12 group-based sessions for parents, youth, and two joint sessions) or a literature control condition. Multimethod and multiinformant data were collected at baseline, posttest, 6-year and 15-year follow-up assessments. Results showed that program-induced improvements in effective parenting at posttest were associated with reduced aversive self-views and increased caregiver connectedness at the 6-year follow-up, and each mediator was in turn associated with reduced suicide risk at the 6- and 15-year follow-up. The mediated pathways via aversive self-views remained significant while controlling for caregiver connectedness. Self-related concepts may be important targets in upstream suicide prevention for at-risk youth.
- suicidal behavior
- suicide prevention
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health