Characteristics of Survivors of Suicide Seeking Counseling From an NGO in Denmark: analyses of a national database

Annette Erlangsen*, Elene Fleischer, David Gunnell, Merete Nordentoft

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


The loss of a friend or family member to suicide, i.e., surviving suicide, can be devastating. Yet, little is known regarding the support received by survivors of suicide. We aimed to examine the characteristics of survivors of suicide who sought counseling from a Danish volunteer organization.

Data on all users of the Danish Network for those Affected by Suicidal Behavior (NASB) were obtained during 2012–2018. Information on age, sex, relation, time of loss, municipality was analyzed, and geographical driving distances calculated.

Altogether, 1,268 survivors of suicide (mean age 43.3; 29.8% of all suicides) received counseling from NASB. In all, 81.8% of service users had lost a partner or first-degree relative; those being spouses/partners (15.3%), parents (28.5%), children (19.0%), and siblings (15.4%). Female service users (71.1%) outnumbered males (28.7%). A third of users sought counseling within 6-months of the death. A help-seeking rate of 6 users per 10 suicide deaths was found within close proximity to a counseling venue; equivalent of 5.5 (95% CI: 5.0–6.0) users per 100,000 inhabitants. Each additional 10 km of driving distance was associated with a 15% lower rate of use (b: −0.015; 95% CI: 0.027 to 0.003; p = 0.013).

Geographical proximity to help centers was important and could suggest that support might be lacking in some parts of the country. It seems likely that more than 0.6 persons per suicide might seek counseling from volunteer organizations if services were available within short driving distance.

More than one out of three who sought support after a suicide death were partners or first-degree relatives and only a third of users who sought counseling did so within 6-months of the death. Also, female sought counseling more frequently than males.

Approximately 5.5 people per 100,000 inhabitants sought help after a suicide in areas where a counseling venue was within short driving distance.

Based on the region with most counseling venues, 6 survivors would seek support per 10 suicide deaths.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalArchives of Suicide Research
Early online date1 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 International Academy for Suicide Research.

Structured keywords

  • SASH


  • bereaved by suicide
  • counsellor-led support groups
  • postvention
  • survivors of suicide
  • volunteer-based counseling


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