Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Nadorff, Michael

Committee Member

Winer, E. Samuel

Committee Member

Cerel, Julie

Committee Member

Berman, Mitch

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Applied Psychology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology


Bereavement is a challenging time for those experiencing a loss, and it poses a difficult clinical question: How do we help individuals who are grieving? The literature provides mixed evidence for variations in bereavement depending on the type of loss (e.g., suicide, expected natural, unexpected natural, accidental); however, there seems to be more overlap among grief processes than differences. Given that various religions tend to include tenets suggesting the sinfulness of death by suicide, the present study hypothesized that there would be greater levels of negative religious coping, less positive religious coping, less perceived religious support, and greater rates of lying about cause of death in response to suicide loss than natural or accidental deaths. Overall, our findings suggested little to no difference among positive religious coping or perceived religious support following suicide, accidental, or natural deaths. Various comparison methods yielded moderately consistent findings that individuals lied about cause of suicide death more often than natural or accidental deaths, consistent with extant research. Further, there was some evidence of greater levels of negative religious coping for accidental deaths than natural deaths. The current study contributes prevalence rates for exposure to and distress following suicide, natural, and accidental deaths, as well as suggesting that the role of religion in suicide bereavement need not be different from other types of death.



Grief||Suicide Loss||Religion||Suicide Survivors||Bereavement