Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Julie Cerel


Support groups for suicide loss survivors are a relatively common resource used by those who are left to cope in the aftermath of a suicide death. Though descriptive studies have been used to provide an overview of support groups in the past, there have been no efforts to understand nuances of these groups and the impact of these groups and differing facilitation styles on the bereavement experience for attendees. This study explores primary data collected between March 2015 and December 2015 with a sample of 138 survivor of suicide loss support group facilitators in the United States and several other countries.

Meaning making and meaning reconstruction is presented as the primary theory used to examine the attitudes of support group facilitators. Basic analytic procedures were used to explore sample descriptives, and an Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) with an oblique rotation was used to identify the factors within the Survivor of Suicide Loss Support Group Facilitator Scale. Three factors were revealed with a simple structure, representing the latent themes of (1) Facilitator Perspective on the Role of the Story (α=.73), (2) Facilitator Perspective on the Role of the Facilitator (α=.63), and (3) Facilitator Perspective on Role of the Loss Survivor (α.59). Bivariate analyses revealed that factors 1 and 2 both had a significant relationship with length of time the facilitator had been leading the group, facilitator’s level of compassion satisfaction, and facilitator’s level of burnout.

The findings of the EFA support the use of the scale as a tool to discern differences in attitudes about the role of meaning making and sharing of stories in the group as well as the role of the facilitator in aiding this process. The findings provide important information for understanding variation in support group facilitation styles and have implications for future exploration of outcomes for group attendees based on facilitator attitude and style. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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