Experiences of Parents as Suicide Survivors

자살로 자녀를 잃은 부모의 경험 -참척(慘慽) 고통과 화해-

  • Received : 2012.02.15
  • Accepted : 2012.05.07
  • Published : 2012.11.30


This study aimed to express the experiences of the parents who lost their children by suicides in their own words from their own perspectives by van Manen(2000)'s hermeneutic phenomenological approach. The analysis of the words expressed by the research participants led to the following five fundamental themes. These are 'broken heart, sinner's grief, land of exile and time stood still, pains to be comforted, and days ahead with half-stitched wounds'. Several distinctions are found due to cultural differences from Korean parents. First, whereas the Western parents see the cause of their child's suicide as his/her independent issue, the Korean parents blame themselves entirely. This may have stemmed from the overly inter-dependency between the parents and the child. Second, whereas the Western perspective views the suicide as a type of illness from the individual's depression. The Korean perspective views the suicide as a shame that disgraces the parents or the family. This negative social perspective intensifies the self-blame and social isolation. Third, the Westerners recognize the prevention and responsibility of suicide resting with the society and government, but the Korean society recognize suicide as personal or family matter. Based on the finding above, I proposed a number of practical measures to aid the surviving parents who belong to a group with extremely high suicidal rates.