The whānau experience of suicide loss : what contributes to resilience and wellbeing? : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology at Massey University, Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa, Albany, Aotearoa New Zealand
The aim of this research was to explore and understand Māori whānau experiences of suicide loss and factors that increase resilience and wellbeing within this context. Māori have the highest suicide rates in New Zealand, yet there is limited literature that focuses exclusively on Māori whānau bereaved to suicide. Furthermore, there is limited literature that views Māori suicide bereavement through a family/whānau resilience lens. The present study took a Kaupapa Māori approach that validated Māori knowledge and tikanga and was cognisant of social structures and power imbalances that surround whānau. Six whānau bereaved by suicide were interviewed, as well as five Māori key informants who have extensive experience working with whānau in their various roles within community mental health, mental health services, and suicide prevention. Findings pointed to the ripple effect that a suicide has on a whānau and its members over the long term and intergenerationally. This is hindered by the stigma that is still evident in the dominant society and within Māori culture that creates a barrier to resilience and wellbeing. Resilience was enacted within whānau units, through wairuatanga, and connection to Te Ao Māori and mātauranga Māori. The current formal support available did not adequately support whānau resilience and wellbeing. The findings have implications at a societal level and for therapists or services engaged in supporting suicide bereaved whānau.