Episode 6: Discussing Depression, Growth and Surviving Suicide Loss w/Dr. Natalya Bogopolskaya

Episode 6: Discussing Depression, Growth and Surviving Suicide Loss w/Dr. Natalya Bogopolskaya

“A lot of times people ask: how do I return to my ‘normal’ life after someone close to me has died?
-You will have to find a new normal.
— Dr. Bogopolskaya on Professor David Schonfeld

Dr. Natalya Bogopolskaya has a Doctor of Psychology degree in school psychology from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She obtained her Master of Education in school psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and Bachelor of Arts in psychology, French, and Russian from Claremont McKenna College.

She is also a nationally certified school psychologist, having interned and worked in schools districts in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and now Los Angeles, where she currently resides. Her dissertation was on the relationship between resilience traits, post-traumatic stress disorder, and post-traumatic growth in suicide loss survivors.

Natalya chose to do this work on resiliency and grief because of her interest in the relationship between traumatic events and resilience, inspired by the work of Dr. George Bonanno. There is a lot of research about suicide loss and the development of depression and anxiety but not necessarily PTSD.

Working in the school system, and conducting suicide risk assessments almost once every other week, Natalya was interested in better understanding what protective factors communities can help build in its members to better cope with stressors, mental health illnesses, and traumatic events as well as what kind of negative life events people are truly wired to handle.

One of the things that we discussed in our conversation was about the tools available to people when coping with grief after the loss of a loved one, or are themselves in need of tools to deal with depression or suicidal ideation. One such tool is community and/or relationships. Those relationships can be in either group counseling, one-on-one counseling, or even finding certified individuals online or other people that have gone through similar experiences. Everyone relates differently to dealing with their struggles - but the important thing to remember is that it cannot be done alone.

“One of the resilience traits that I found that correlated with a lower PTSD score was people that reported having at least one close and secure relationship that can help them when they are stressed… When people handle traumas alone that can have a lasting negative impact.” - Dr. Natalya Bogopolskaya

Another issue that we touched on was about the stigma around depression, or suicide, or even grief after the loss of a loved one. When community members either unintentionally avoid or actively exclude someone because of a trauma they faced or because of a mental health issue those community members become an obstacle to that person’s healing process.

For an article about the role of religious communities in reacting in a more compassionate way to families that lost someone to suicide - you can read more here on the online version of the Christian Post.

One need not worry that they as an outsider will put ideas into someone else’s head by asking them how they are currently doing when dealing with depression or intense grief. Those ideas are already there - what is currently not there is someone engaging in compassionate relationship with them. The time for the bonds of friendship to be frayed is not during the time of difficulty that someone is currently facing.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is Available 24 hours everyday.
Call 1-800-273-8255
Or access their online chat here.

We see you. We care about you. We love you. Let us know what you are going through. Life is a roller-coaster of ups and downs, and the last time I checked we were meant to go on these rides together.

Lastly, we concluded our conversation with some resources to follow up with to continue the learning:

For books recommended by Dr. Bogopolskaya check out:

  • “The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss” by George A. Bonanno

  • “Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth” by Jim Rendon


Have you ever had to create a new normal? Who or what was the most supportive to you during that time?

Comment Below!

Thanks again and looking forward to being on this journey with you!

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