Noam Schneck, Ph.D.

@noam-schneck-ph-d | contributor
Medical Expert
Noam Schneck, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center/New York State Psychiatric Institute as well as a private practice psychotherapist. Noam is committed to helping those who've lost a loved one to suicide.

Survive Together: Suicide Loss Survivor Study

Why Are We Conducting This Study? In 2016, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide in the Unites States alone. For each suicide, somewhere between six and 20 family and friends are affected. Every year around one to three quarter million people are touched by suicide. Despite this growing need, there remains much to be learned about how people bereaved by suicide can grow and recover in the wake of a loss. During the acute stages of grief (i.e. less than six-months post loss) habits and tendencies relating to how a person thinks and feels about the loss develop. These mental habits can set the course for the rest of the grieving process. As a result, this represents a critical time period in which to develop a potential intervention. For this reason, the Survive Together research study at the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University Department of Psychiatry seeks to understand the thoughts, feelings and brain-responses that occur during acute grieving which promote long-term growth and wellness. This knowledge will serve as the basis for a treatment strategy aimed at helping people grow and thrive in the wake of their loss. What Can You Do? The Survive Together study presents an opportunity for suicide loss survivors to contribute to our mission of helping people grieving suicide. We are looking for people who have lost a loved one to suicide within the past five months. You can participate even if you do not live near NYC. If interested, please contact schneck@nyspi.columbia.edu for further details. How Does This Work? The human brain is equipped with resilience tools that help a person grow and thrive after painful events. However, not all people are able to respond to painful events in this way, and sometimes the pain is too overwhelming. Survive Together aims to identify the resilience tools that help people adapt and grow in the wake of a suicide loss, using a brain imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI). By identifying the brain’s resilience tools for dealing with suicide-loss, we will be able to develop treatment techniques to help people use their brain more effectively to find wellness, meaning and growth after losing a loved one to suicide. Please note: This study is recruiting until 2023, however participation is only possible within five months after loss.

How to Participate in the Survive-Online Suicide Loss Study

“I’ve lost people before, but this feels totally different.” In my eight years researching suicide grief, I hear this sentiment again and again. People across the suicide grieving community express the feeling that suicide grief stands out from other types of grief. The pain of the loss, the difficulty concentrating, the guilt, anger, shame and exhaustion make suicide grief uniquely hard. While the affected community understands these aspects of suicide grief, the professional and research community remains relatively uninformed. Rigorous research on the length and intensity of suicide grief simply has not been done at a large scale. How long does it last? How do we know if someone’s grieving extends beyond the expected timeframe? What happens during that grieving? When we know how long we expect grieving to last and how intense we expect it to get, we can provide guidelines for when a person should seek help and when they should just give it more time. When I talk to people about their grieving, they often look for a sense of normalcy. “Everyone says it’s been long enough, is it normal that I’m still feeling this way?” “Is this how most people react?” “Is something wrong with me?” Unfortunately, all I can answer right now is, “I don’t know.” Survive-Online seeks to answer these important questions. By participating in Survive-Online you help us understand how suicide grief works. This large-scale research study, conducted through the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry together with The Mighty, aims to help the mental health community better address the unique needs of those who have lost a loved one to suicide. In order to participate, please click this link. p.s. Survive-Online is running side-by-side with a brain imaging study we are doing in New York. If you would like to participate in the brain imaging study please see this page. We encourage everyone who can participate in one or both studies to do so.

Survive Together: Suicide Loss Survivor Study

Why Are We Conducting This Study? In 2016, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide in the Unites States alone. For each suicide, somewhere between six and 20 family and friends are affected. Every year around one to three quarter million people are touched by suicide. Despite this growing need, there remains much to be learned about how people bereaved by suicide can grow and recover in the wake of a loss. During the acute stages of grief (i.e. less than six-months post loss) habits and tendencies relating to how a person thinks and feels about the loss develop. These mental habits can set the course for the rest of the grieving process. As a result, this represents a critical time period in which to develop a potential intervention. For this reason, the Survive Together research study at the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University Department of Psychiatry seeks to understand the thoughts, feelings and brain-responses that occur during acute grieving which promote long-term growth and wellness. This knowledge will serve as the basis for a treatment strategy aimed at helping people grow and thrive in the wake of their loss. What Can You Do? The Survive Together study presents an opportunity for suicide loss survivors to contribute to our mission of helping people grieving suicide. We are looking for people who have lost a loved one to suicide within the past five months. You can participate even if you do not live near NYC. If interested, please contact schneck@nyspi.columbia.edu for further details. How Does This Work? The human brain is equipped with resilience tools that help a person grow and thrive after painful events. However, not all people are able to respond to painful events in this way, and sometimes the pain is too overwhelming. Survive Together aims to identify the resilience tools that help people adapt and grow in the wake of a suicide loss, using a brain imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI). By identifying the brain’s resilience tools for dealing with suicide-loss, we will be able to develop treatment techniques to help people use their brain more effectively to find wellness, meaning and growth after losing a loved one to suicide. Please note: This study is recruiting until 2023, however participation is only possible within five months after loss.

Medical Expert Explains Pain Associated With Grief and Suicide Loss

“This is like no other pain I’ve experienced before” is how most of the people I work with describe grieving suicide.  Hand in hand with this pain comes a sense of self-judgment and doubt: “Am I grieving the right way?” These experiences of pain and self-criticality can form a nearly constant cycle in the mind. In our studies of suicide grief, my colleagues and I have discovered that outside of the intense emotional pain and the preoccupation of grieving another quieter healing process is taking place. We have identified unconscious processing of the loss occurring outside of awareness. This unconscious processing corresponded to less impairing and overwhelming feelings of grief.  Meaning that during times when the mind is focused on other aspects of life like shopping, taking care of family, work, driving or really anything else a separate part of the mind may be silently processing the loss and working towards a resolution. We identified this unconscious grieving by first finding a neural signature for focusing on the loss (Figure 1). A neural signature is a pattern of brain activity linked to a specific psychological process, in this case focusing on the loss. We then presented a rather mindless button pressing task and periodically asked people if they were thinking about their loss. People varied in terms of how much they did or did not think about the loss during this button pressing task. We were specifically interested in the neural activity happening when people were not thinking about the loss . Those who activated the neural signature for focusing on the loss in the absence of actual conscious thoughts of loss reported less impairing and overwhelming grief. The presence of neural activity linked to focusing on the loss in combination with n ot thinking about the loss, therefore, appears to be a type of unconscious loss processing. These findings mean that even while the conscious mind is distracted or focused on something else, a separate part of the mind can be working on the loss and potentially moving a person towards healing. For me, these findings are particularly relevant when I speak to grievers who are overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to grieve. Feelings of grieving too much or too little, feeling too guilty or not guilty enough, too sad or not sad enough or somehow not grieving in the right way can dominate the mind. I’ve taken to calling this tendency to critique and judge one’s own grieving as “meta-grieving” or the thoughts one has about their grieving and the worries they may have about how family members are grieving. The fact that unconscious grieving exists might provide a bit of a counter to the worries of meta-grieving. One does not entirely have to figure out exactly “how to grieve.” The unconscious mind is quietly and persistently helping out and working on the task of grieving. The brain knows how to do it and one does not need to figure it out all on their own. In a sense, it is like any other natural biological process like falling asleep. We don’t “figure out” how to fall asleep, rather we set a certain context and allow the brain to fall asleep for us. It can be hard to imagine how to live the rest of your life with the grief of suicide. Life stretches out like an impossible road. The fact that the unconscious mind is working on the grief can mean that one day things might just feel different. The road will feel different, the way the world seems impossible and overwhelming will feel different. This is how our unconscious mind works beneath the surface to change the way reality feels. One day it may seem impossible to imagine living a fulfilling and joyful life. Over the course of time as the brain works to unconsciously process the loss the picture may change and the same future may look different.

Survive Together: Suicide Loss Survivor Study

Why Are We Conducting This Study? In 2016, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide in the Unites States alone. For each suicide, somewhere between six and 20 family and friends are affected. Every year around one to three quarter million people are touched by suicide. Despite this growing need, there remains much to be learned about how people bereaved by suicide can grow and recover in the wake of a loss. During the acute stages of grief (i.e. less than six-months post loss) habits and tendencies relating to how a person thinks and feels about the loss develop. These mental habits can set the course for the rest of the grieving process. As a result, this represents a critical time period in which to develop a potential intervention. For this reason, the Survive Together research study at the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University Department of Psychiatry seeks to understand the thoughts, feelings and brain-responses that occur during acute grieving which promote long-term growth and wellness. This knowledge will serve as the basis for a treatment strategy aimed at helping people grow and thrive in the wake of their loss. What Can You Do? The Survive Together study presents an opportunity for suicide loss survivors to contribute to our mission of helping people grieving suicide. We are looking for people who have lost a loved one to suicide within the past five months. You can participate even if you do not live near NYC. If interested, please contact schneck@nyspi.columbia.edu for further details. How Does This Work? The human brain is equipped with resilience tools that help a person grow and thrive after painful events. However, not all people are able to respond to painful events in this way, and sometimes the pain is too overwhelming. Survive Together aims to identify the resilience tools that help people adapt and grow in the wake of a suicide loss, using a brain imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI). By identifying the brain’s resilience tools for dealing with suicide-loss, we will be able to develop treatment techniques to help people use their brain more effectively to find wellness, meaning and growth after losing a loved one to suicide. Please note: This study is recruiting until 2023, however participation is only possible within five months after loss.

Survive Together: Suicide Loss Survivor Study

Why Are We Conducting This Study? In 2016, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide in the Unites States alone. For each suicide, somewhere between six and 20 family and friends are affected. Every year around one to three quarter million people are touched by suicide. Despite this growing need, there remains much to be learned about how people bereaved by suicide can grow and recover in the wake of a loss. During the acute stages of grief (i.e. less than six-months post loss) habits and tendencies relating to how a person thinks and feels about the loss develop. These mental habits can set the course for the rest of the grieving process. As a result, this represents a critical time period in which to develop a potential intervention. For this reason, the Survive Together research study at the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University Department of Psychiatry seeks to understand the thoughts, feelings and brain-responses that occur during acute grieving which promote long-term growth and wellness. This knowledge will serve as the basis for a treatment strategy aimed at helping people grow and thrive in the wake of their loss. What Can You Do? The Survive Together study presents an opportunity for suicide loss survivors to contribute to our mission of helping people grieving suicide. We are looking for people who have lost a loved one to suicide within the past five months. You can participate even if you do not live near NYC. If interested, please contact schneck@nyspi.columbia.edu for further details. How Does This Work? The human brain is equipped with resilience tools that help a person grow and thrive after painful events. However, not all people are able to respond to painful events in this way, and sometimes the pain is too overwhelming. Survive Together aims to identify the resilience tools that help people adapt and grow in the wake of a suicide loss, using a brain imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI). By identifying the brain’s resilience tools for dealing with suicide-loss, we will be able to develop treatment techniques to help people use their brain more effectively to find wellness, meaning and growth after losing a loved one to suicide. Please note: This study is recruiting until 2023, however participation is only possible within five months after loss.

Survive Together: Suicide Loss Survivor Study

Why Are We Conducting This Study? In 2016, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide in the Unites States alone. For each suicide, somewhere between six and 20 family and friends are affected. Every year around one to three quarter million people are touched by suicide. Despite this growing need, there remains much to be learned about how people bereaved by suicide can grow and recover in the wake of a loss. During the acute stages of grief (i.e. less than six-months post loss) habits and tendencies relating to how a person thinks and feels about the loss develop. These mental habits can set the course for the rest of the grieving process. As a result, this represents a critical time period in which to develop a potential intervention. For this reason, the Survive Together research study at the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University Department of Psychiatry seeks to understand the thoughts, feelings and brain-responses that occur during acute grieving which promote long-term growth and wellness. This knowledge will serve as the basis for a treatment strategy aimed at helping people grow and thrive in the wake of their loss. What Can You Do? The Survive Together study presents an opportunity for suicide loss survivors to contribute to our mission of helping people grieving suicide. We are looking for people who have lost a loved one to suicide within the past five months. You can participate even if you do not live near NYC. If interested, please contact schneck@nyspi.columbia.edu for further details. How Does This Work? The human brain is equipped with resilience tools that help a person grow and thrive after painful events. However, not all people are able to respond to painful events in this way, and sometimes the pain is too overwhelming. Survive Together aims to identify the resilience tools that help people adapt and grow in the wake of a suicide loss, using a brain imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI). By identifying the brain’s resilience tools for dealing with suicide-loss, we will be able to develop treatment techniques to help people use their brain more effectively to find wellness, meaning and growth after losing a loved one to suicide. Please note: This study is recruiting until 2023, however participation is only possible within five months after loss.

Survive Together: Suicide Loss Survivor Study

Why Are We Conducting This Study? In 2016, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide in the Unites States alone. For each suicide, somewhere between six and 20 family and friends are affected. Every year around one to three quarter million people are touched by suicide. Despite this growing need, there remains much to be learned about how people bereaved by suicide can grow and recover in the wake of a loss. During the acute stages of grief (i.e. less than six-months post loss) habits and tendencies relating to how a person thinks and feels about the loss develop. These mental habits can set the course for the rest of the grieving process. As a result, this represents a critical time period in which to develop a potential intervention. For this reason, the Survive Together research study at the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University Department of Psychiatry seeks to understand the thoughts, feelings and brain-responses that occur during acute grieving which promote long-term growth and wellness. This knowledge will serve as the basis for a treatment strategy aimed at helping people grow and thrive in the wake of their loss. What Can You Do? The Survive Together study presents an opportunity for suicide loss survivors to contribute to our mission of helping people grieving suicide. We are looking for people who have lost a loved one to suicide within the past five months. You can participate even if you do not live near NYC. If interested, please contact schneck@nyspi.columbia.edu for further details. How Does This Work? The human brain is equipped with resilience tools that help a person grow and thrive after painful events. However, not all people are able to respond to painful events in this way, and sometimes the pain is too overwhelming. Survive Together aims to identify the resilience tools that help people adapt and grow in the wake of a suicide loss, using a brain imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI). By identifying the brain’s resilience tools for dealing with suicide-loss, we will be able to develop treatment techniques to help people use their brain more effectively to find wellness, meaning and growth after losing a loved one to suicide. Please note: This study is recruiting until 2023, however participation is only possible within five months after loss.