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Language Use in Two Types of Suicide Texts
Linköping University, Department of Culture and Communication, Language and Culture. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Suicide texts are the traces left by their authors for the public allowing them to understand the causes of the desire to commit suicide, regardless of whether such notes preceded successful suicide attempts or not. The types of such texts can vary dramatically in emotional expressiveness, be it a suicide note handwritten by the author or a short post typed on a web forum dedicated to suicides. While one text can be evidence of a successful suicide attempt, the other may point to a deeply depressive state which may or may not lead to a suicide attempt in future. The main questions this study aims to answer are: (1) what is the difference between the two above-named types of suicide texts (‘suicide notes’ and ‘suicide posts’) and (2) how is it expressed linguistically? Previous works on suicide texts have been of significant importance and have managed to investigate the differences between suicide notes of the attempters and those who completed suicide (Joiner 2002) as well as underline the typical features of genuine suicide notes in comparison to fabricated suicide notes. However, no studies indicating the differences between the ‘suicide notes’ of successful suicides and the ‘suicide posts’ of authors exhibiting various degrees of depressive behavior have previously been conducted. In this thesis, the comparative analysis of ‘suicide notes’ left by those successful in their attempts  and ‘suicide posts’ composed by authors with unknown fates has been carried out with the help of discourse analysis. Both types of texts have been examined from such linguistic levels as semantics, pragmatics and syntax. The results show several distinctive features peculiar to each type. While providing a clear reason for committing suicide in the one case contrasts with detailing a number of causes for depression in the other, further differences exist in regard to expressing such emotions as (1) fear of life, (2) relief, (3) lack of hope and (4) lack of doubt versus displaying such emotions as (1) fear of death, (2) preserved desire and (3) doubt. An easy to follow structure and purposeful past tense usage in suicide notes stands in contrast to the allusions to previous suicide attempts and indistinguishable pattern found in suicide posts. At the same time, specific punctuation signs were found to be peculiar mainly to the suicide post type of text.  The results of the research also demonstrate the necessity for further investigation of the characteristic features of different types of suicide text as well as their classification. Moreover, the study indicates the possibilities of tracing the probable transformation from ‘suicide posts’ to ‘suicide notes’ which may well serve for purposes of suicide prevention, especially if an additional category, i.e., notes written by survivors, is added to the analysis. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 60 p.
Keyword [en]
Language use Suicide texts Discourse Analysis Linguistics
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102099ISRN: LIU-IKK/MPLCE-A--13/09--SEOAI: diva2:668437
Subject / course
Master's Programme in Language and Culture in Europe
2013-10-29, IKK Library, Linköping University 581 83, Linköping, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2013-12-02 Created: 2013-11-29 Last updated: 2013-12-02Bibliographically approved

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Prokofyeva, Tatiana
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