Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Terri Erbacher, PhD

Second Advisor

Virginia Salzer, PhD

Third Advisor

Scott Poland, PhD


Many studies have examined the bereavement patterns and development of anxiety or mood disorders in suicide loss; however, few have looked at the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or the impact of resilience factors on the development of PTSD or posttraumatic growth (PTG) in suicide loss survivors. This study’s primary hypothesis was that a greater number of resilience traits, as defined under the domains of personal competence, trust/tolerance/strengthening effects of stress, acceptance of change and secure relationships, control, and spiritual influences (CDRISC- 25; Connor & Davidson, 2003), would correlate with fewer PTSD symptoms under DSM-5 criteria (PCL-5; Weathers et al., 2013) and lower levels of PTG (PTGI-X; Tedeschi, Cann, Taku, Senol-Durak, & Calhoun, 2017). Additional factors were also assessed, including the method of discovery of the suicide, time passed since the suicide, level of perceived closeness to the deceased, relationship to the deceased, and exposure to support groups, mental health treatment, or other community supports. Data were collected from 336 adult participants between the ages of 18 and over 71 years, who identified as having lost someone to suicide in a time period more than six months prior to survey completion. Data analyses were performed on the 219 individuals who met inclusion criteria and responded to all 91 survey questions. The results of the study found that direct discovery of the suicide did not result in higher rates of reported PTSD symptoms when compared to the other methods of discovery of the suicide; more time passed since the discovery of the suicide significantly contributed to lower rates of reported PTSD symptoms; losing one’s child, mother, or long-term significant partner to suicide resulted in statistically significant higher rates of reported PTSD symptoms compared to other relationships to the deceased; the more close a respondent reported feeling to the deceased, the more PTSD symptoms he or she endorsed; exposure to postvention did not significantly contribute to rates of reported PTSD symptoms; and an v increase in resilience factors statistically predicted lower rates of PTSD symptoms and higher rates of PTG.