Poster Presentation

Monday, November 5, 2007
10:30 AM - 11:45 AM

Monday, November 5, 2007
1:45 PM - 3:00 PM
This presentation is part of : Rising Stars Posters
Resilience in Aboriginal Women
Lyla G. Goin, RN, BScN, Graduate program, Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Learning Objective #1: discuss the experience of Alberta Aboriginal women following the loss of a loved one to suicide
Learning Objective #2: describe key supportive factors identified by Aboriginal women following the loss of a loved one to suicide.

Background: Suicide is a tragically common experience in Canadian Aboriginal communities. The purpose of this study was to explore resilience in Aboriginal women in a reserve community in central Alberta following the loss of a loved one by suicide. Methods: A participatory action research design, using in-depth interviews, was used for the study. An advisory group of community women worked with the researcher throughout the study, helping to define the concept of resilience in women, and identify women who demonstrated resilience. Ten Aboriginal women who had lost loved ones to suicide were interviewed twice to explore factors which contributed to their resilience. An inductive process was used to analyze the data involving iteratively coding and identifying themes and relationships among themes. Findings: The initial response to the suicide by participants was shock, disbelief, and anger. Following this, the women felt guilt, blame and regret. They struggled with the question of “why did my loved one choose to do this”? After a very difficult adjustment period, the women reached a turning point and were able to accept their loss and move on with their life. Spiritual beliefs, prayer, a connection to the deceased, the support of family and friends and previous family teaching were the key supportive factors identified by the women in their healing journey. Other factors included; keeping busy and having a routine, walking and exercise, the importance of laughter and comfort in nature. Conclusion: The lessons learned from the suicide helped the women cope with other adversities and motivated them to give back to their community. The findings provide new insights about the healing path, including factors that promote resilience that Aboriginal women follow after a suicide.