People bereaved by suicide represent a vulnerable population, but postvention still lacks evidence-based resources to support them. Mindfulness and self-compassion–based interventions have proven effective in countering depression, PTSD symptoms, and traumatic bereavement, and may also be beneficial in suicide postvention. To assess the effectiveness of Panta Rhei, a short, intensive, mindful self-compassion-based intervention for people bereaved by suicide, we evaluated baseline and follow-up levels of psychological distress, mindfulness, and self-compassion in participants and a control group.
The intervention was a non-randomized trial conducted with 147 people bereaved by suicide of whom 97 participated in a short 16-h intensive experiential intervention. Each of them completed the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), and Profiles of Mood States (POMS) 4–6 days prior to and after the intervention.
Psychological distress significantly decreased in all areas evaluated by POMS. Participants also showed a significant increase in the FFMQ subscales Observe, Describe, Non-judge, and Non-react, in the SCS Self-Kindness subscale, and in overall Self-Compassion as inferred from significant group*time interaction effects. Sociodemographic, grief-related variables, SCS, and FFMQ at baseline did not correlate with changes in participants’ psychological distress.
Despite being limited by the lack of randomization for ethical reasons and the high prevalence of highly educated females in the control and intervention groups, this study illustrates the effectiveness of a short, intensive, mindful self-compassion-based intervention for a self-selected group of people bereaved by suicide.