Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 209–227 | Cite as

Intergenerational Suicide and Family Dynamics: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Case Study

  • Steven J. Sandage
Original Paper


A phenomenological case study of a family in which the father committed suicide following incarceration and an adult daughter also committed suicide years later is described. This study used an embedded design to triangulate multiple sources of data (family documents and interviews with survivors) within the study of a single family. Four themes emerged to describe the relational dynamics between the father and adult daughter: (a) Mirroring, (b) Caretaking, (c) Death, and (d) Suicide. Four themes emerged from interviews with survivors about their coping process: (a) Ongoing Grief process, (b) Media Exploitation, (c) Separation and Transformation, and (d) Forgiveness. Results are discussed in terms of prevention and family processes in coping with suicide.


Suicide Family dynamics Grief Qualitative research Incarceration 



I want to thank all the participants in this study for their generous contributions. I am also grateful to Carla Dahl and Jim Maddock for their helpful input.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bethel UniversityArden HillsUSA

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