Communication plays an important role in the prevention of suicide, a leading cause of death in the United States. Prior research suggests people who die by suicide often communicate their intent to more than one member of their social network. The ubiquity of social media in modern society means an individual’s social network may be larger than ever before, which has contributed to a proliferation of colloquial terms and phrases to describe suicide.
The present study collected and validated suicide-related terms from the U.S. English language in 2018–2019. By validating clinical and lay terms with people on the front lines of suicide prevention, the study provides a necessary foundation for lexical analyses of suicide communication on social media.
98 terms related to suicide were collected from online, academic, and other sources. Mental health professionals and members of the electronic mailing list of the American Association of Suicidology were asked to validate terms.
The survey validated common terms used to communicate about suicide.