The Lived Experience of College Faculty Following Student Suicide: A Phenomenological Inquiry

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Abstract The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the lived experience of college faculty following student suicide. Doka’s Theory of Disenfranchised Grief was used as a theoretical framework. The research methodology of phenomenology was utilized for this study. Six participants completed face-to-face interviews and shared their complete and personal experience with student suicide. Data were analyzed using Tesch’s eight steps. The participants’ stories yielded themes of missed clues, postvention, awareness of student problem, guns, and loss of potential. Faculty members who have experienced the suicide of a student are often faced with many challenges. Overall, the participants expressed a belief that they failed to notice clues of students’ suicidal ideations, and the belief that they lacked formal training in the area of mental health. The participants also expressed a need for postvention, including debriefing, following a student suicide. A lack of available resources for students with mental health needs was highlighted, along with the challenges associated with being unable to force a student to engage in therapy. Based upon the findings of this study, there is a need to acknowledge the feelings and emotions of faculty members following student suicide. Grief is a unique and personal experience. The results of this study suggest that faculty members need training and support in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention.
Higher education, Suicide, College faculty, Student suicide, Postvention, Bereavement
Summers, M. (2019). The lived experience of college faculty following student suicide: A phenomenological inquiry (Doctoral dissertation). Bryan College of Health Sciences, Lincoln, NE.