Table 1

Characteristics of participants by type of bereavement exposure

Participants bereaved bySudden natural death (n=2106)Sudden unnatural death (n=712)Suicide (n=614)Total (n=3432)p Value*
Sociodemographic characteristics
Gender,† n (%)
 Female1709 (81)576 (81)499 (81)2784 (81)0.982
 Missing1 (<1)0 (0)0 (0)1 (<1)
Age of participant (years)† mean (SD)24.9 (6.3)25.2 (6.3)25.2 (6.0)25.0 (6.3)0.069
Self-defined ethnicity, n (%)
 White1877 (89)645 (91)562 (92)3084 (90)0.154
 Non-white228 (10)65 (9)52 (9)345 (10)
 Missing1 (<1)2 (<1)0 (0)3 (<1)
Socioeconomic status†,‡ n (%)
 Social classes 1.1 and 1.2603 (29)224 (32)176 (29)1003 (29)0.179
 Social class 2684 (33)234 (33)204 (33)1122 (33)
 Social class 3259 (12)77 (11)68 (11)404 (12)
 Social class 490 (4)34 (5)32 (5)156 (5)
 Social classes 5, 6, 7 and 9409 (19)115 (16)113 (18)638 (19)
 Missing61 (3)27 (4)21 (3)109 (3)
Educational status, n (%)
 No academic qualifications2 (<1)2 (<1)0 (0)4 (<1)0.013
 Attained maximum GCSE equivalent33 (2)8 (1)12 (2)53 (2)
 Attained maximum A level equivalent929 (44)276 (39)243 (40)1448 (42)
 Attained maximum degree equivalent763 (36)266 (37)217 (35)1246 (36)
 Attained postgraduate degree373 (18)158 (22)142 (23)673 (20)
 Missing6 (<1)2 (<1)0 (0)8 (<1)
Student status, n (%)
 Student1797 (85)613 (86)526 (86)2936 (86)0.822
 Staff253 (12)78 (11)68 (11)399 (12)
 Both55 (3)21 (3)20 (3)96 (3)
 Missing1 (<1)0 (0)0 (0)1 (<1)
Measure of current social support,§ n (%)
 No lack of perceived social support1234 (59)411 (58)345 (56)1990 (58)0.740
 Moderate lack of perceived social support549 (26)197 (28)168 (27)914 (27)
 Severe lack of perceived social support323 (15)102 (14)100 (16)525 (15)
 Missing0 (0)2 (<1)1 (<1)3 (<1)
Clinical characteristics
Family history of psychiatric problems, n (%)
 Yes1243 (59)434 (61)412 (67)2089 (61)0.002
 Missing153 (7)41 (6)39 (6)233 (7)
Other family history of suicide,† n (%)
 Yes123 (6)41 (6)53 (7)217 (6)0.038
 Missing158 (8)43 (6)40 (7)241 (7)
Prebereavement suicidal thoughts¶ n (%)
 Yes584 (28)178 (25)185 (30)947 (28)0.076
 Missing148 (7)39 (6)40 (7)227 (7)
Prebereavement suicide attempt†,** n (%)
 Yes n (%)125 (6)28 (4)49 (8)202 (6)0.007
 Missing n (%)154 (7)40 (6)40 (7)234 (7)
Prebereavement non-suicidal self-harm†,††
 Yes400 (19)121 (17)141 (23)662 (19)0.016
 Missing154 (7)40 (6)40 (7)234 (7)
Postbereavement suicidal thoughts‡‡ n (%)
 Yes911 (43)322 (45)299 (49)1532 (45)0.064
 Missing148 (7)39 (6)40 (7)227 (7)
Postbereavement suicide attempt§§ n (%)
 Yes112 (5)42 (6)56 (9)210 (6)0.003
 Missing154 (7)40 (6)40 (7)234 (7)
Postbereavement non-suicidal self-harm, n (%)
 Yes438 (20)149 (21)151 (25)738 (22)0.127
 Missing154 (7)40 (6)40 (7)234 (7)
Prebereavement depression† n (%)
 Yes370 (18)129 (18)143 (23)642 (19)0.005
 Missing85 (4)21 (3)24 (4)130 (4)
Personality disorder screen positive¶¶ n (%)
 Yes743 (35)227 (32)225 (37)1195 (35)0.082
 Missing131 (6)31 (4)33 (5)195 (6)
Characteristics of the bereavement
Kinship to the deceased† n (%)
 Blood-related1786 (85)351 (49)296 (48)2433 (71)<0.001
 Non-blood-related313 (15)356 (50)317 (52)980 (29)
 Missing7 (<1)5 (1)1 (<1)13 (<1)
Age of the deceased mean (SD)55.1 (21.5)31.0 (17.4)31.9 (15.2)45.9 (22.8)<0.001
Years since bereavement† mean (SD)4.8 (5.3)5.3 (5.4)5.1 (5.0)5.0 (5.3)0.140
Exposure to >1 mode of sudden bereavement, yes, n (%)138 (7)151 (21)312 (51)601 (18)<0.001
Perceived stigma of the bereavement*** mean (SD)11.9 (3.8)12.3 (4.0)14.0 (4.3)12.3 (4.0)<0.001
  • *p Values for group comparisons excluding missing values, using a two-sided significance threshold of p=0.05.

  • †Pre-specified confounding variable used in adjusted model.

  • ‡Socioeconomic status using the five categories from UK Office for National Statistics.

  • §Measure of current social support from APMS.19

  • ¶Values for each exposure group exceeded the maximum lifetime prevalence of suicidal ideation (20.6%) in any corresponding age group within the APMS 2007 household sample.19

  • **Values for each control group were less than the maximum lifetime prevalence of suicide attempt (7.3%) in any corresponding age group within the APMS 2007 household sample.19

  • ††Values for each exposure group exceeded the maximum lifetime prevalence of non-suicidal self-harm (12.4%) in any corresponding age group within the APMS 2007 household sample.19

  • ‡‡ICC=0.008 for suicidal thoughts (n=37 clusters/HEIs) indicating low within-cluster correlation of responses.

  • §§ICC=0.047 for suicide attempt (n=37 clusters/HEIs) indicating low within-cluster correlation of responses.

  • ¶¶SAPAS-SR screen for personality disorder.20

  • ***Stigmatisation subscale of the Grief Experience Questionnaire.6

  • APMS, Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey; ICC, intracluster correlation coefficient; SAPAS-SR, Standardised Assessment of Personality – Abbreviated Scale Self-Report.