Mothers who are bereaved by suicide may themselves have thoughts about ending their own lives and this needs to be recognised by health and social care professionals.
The warning arises out of a study to be presented to a major psychotherapy conference in Dublin to be held next Friday.
Joan Sugrue, who has an MSc in bereavement studies, said her findings followed sampling using seven biological mothers who had lost a child to suicide.
One-to-one interviews were carried out and the results showed the women experienced intense, prolonged grief with many psychological and physical symptoms.
"Several participants acknowledged strong suicidal thoughts and one mother had attempted suicide," she said in advance of the conference marking the 21st year of the Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy. "The misuse of medication or alcohol was identified by some women as a coping strategy. Other findings related to the participants' reasons for wanting to die in order to be with their child and the impact of guilt and blame on their belief system."
She added: "The study findings suggest a need for health and social care professionals to target this vulnerable sub-group as they are less likely than those bereaved by natural deaths to seek help.
"In view of their suicidal tendencies, this may represent a significant form of suicide prevention.
"However, further research is needed in this area in order to establish which type of intervention leads to the most successful outcomes for mothers bereaved by suicide."
Meanwhile, Ann Colgan, chairwoman of the organisation, will examine the value of singing for people with Alzheimer's disease and the usefulness of art as a therapeutic tool to assist people who stutter to make sense of their lived experience.
She points out that when you sing you give all your cells a massage with the vibration of your voice.
She believes music heals the body and soul and forms a connection when words are unavailable.
The 700-member professional body accredits individual psychotherapists and supervisors to a high standard and also sets standards for training.
More details of the conference, which takes place at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire, are available at www.iahip.ie. Phone 01-2841665.
Console, the 24-hour suicide prevention and bereavement service, can be reached at freephone 1800 201 890.