How Henry Hellyer’s use of language foretold his suicide

Henry Hellyer was an accomplished surveyor and explorer in Australia in the early 1800s whose apparent suicide at the age of 42 has puzzled historians for generations. He left behind several written works, including letters, journals, and reports. Aims: The current study assessed changes in the ways Hellyer used words in his various written documents during […]

Effects of context on perceptions of the language of suicide

Objective. There is concern regarding use of the phrase ‘committed suicide’, given its connotations of immorality. Limited research has examined influences on people’s use of this phrase. The current studies examined whether portraying a suicide as highly immoral affects perceptions of the phrase ‘committed suicide’. Method. Undergraduate participants in western Canada read a suicide vignette in […]

Reflective interventionist conversation analysis

A distinction has been drawn between basic (pure) conversation analysis (CA) and applied CA. Applied CA has become especially beneficial for informing areas of practice such as health, social care and education, and is an accepted form of research evidence in the scientific rhetoric. There are different ways of undertaking applied CA, with different foci […]

Paradoxical positivity: Suicide notes use less distressed language than blogs about depression, suicidal thoughts, and even cooking

Introduction While suicide attempts and deaths increase, research and assessment methods have stagnated in terms of increasing predictive power. Lexical analysis has been a useful method in descriptive suicide research, but may have utility for assessment and prediction. Objective The present study used lexical analysis to examine language differences across a spectrum of psychological distress, […]

Language, culture, gender, and intersectionalities in suicide theory, research, and prevention: Challenges and changes

Over the decades suicidology has experienced many challenges and changes. Language, culture, gender, and intersectionalities of experience have been domains of challenge and change. In this article I document my contributions to suicidology’s transformation in these domains. These contributions include challenging stigmatizing and biased suicide-language (e.g., expressions like “successful” and “failed” suicide); questioning gender myths […]

Depicted immorality influences the perceived applicability of the phrase “committed suicide”

Background: “Committed suicide” is often deemed less acceptable than alternative phrases, but such judgments vary widely across individuals. Aim: We tested whether the endorsement of statements containing “committed suicide” is greater when a suicide death is depicted as immoral. We also assessed the degree of immorality suggested by the free-standing phrases “committed suicide” and “died by suicide.” Method: Undergraduate participants […]