Textual analysis of suicide notes: How a new approach could yield fresh insights?

David Lawrence, Phoebe Carrington-Jones, Michael J. Kyron

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


Suicide research has been hampered by difficulties in assessing factors which contribute to completed suicides. One valuable, yet underutilized method to overcome this problem is through the textual analysis of suicide notes. Suicide notes allow insight into the key motivations of a suicidal individual in the moments before they attempt or complete suicide. In a review of scientific literature surround suicide notes, we found an extensive focus of research on risk factors for completing suicide, particularly risk factors that are interpersonal in nature. Yet, with a high proportion of suicide notes containing positive themes, such as love and hope, valuable insights into the suicidal mind may be overlooked. Future research should further look to explore the balance between risk and protective factors in the lives of suicide completers and attempters to develop a comprehensive picture of motivations for suicide.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAlternatives to Suicide
Subtitle of host publicationBeyond Risk and Toward a Life Worth Living
EditorsAndrew C. Page, Werner G. K. Stritzke
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780128142981
ISBN (Print)9780128142974
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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