"I am so sick of this life": A Semiotic Analysis of Suicidal Messages on the Internet

Itzhak Gilat, Yishai Tobin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study exploited the fully documented writings of suicidal individuals who sought help from an online emotional first aid service in order to better understand the suicidal mind. Three messages posted to an online support group and three personal chats conducted between suicidal individuals and trained volunteers were analyzed using methods derived from a semiotic approach to linguistic analysis [', 2].The methods are based on the premise that there is a causal connection between the non-random distribution of the language in a spoken and written discourse/text and the extra-linguistic message of that discourse/text. Consistent with previous reports, our findings revealed that suicidal individuals who sought help experienced a conflict between an attraction to death and a perceived connection to life. The semiotic analysis made a unique contribution by illuminating the attitudes of the suicidal individuals towards life, and also showed that these individuals perceive life as an obligation that they are forced to fulfill against their will. This view of life produces severe emotional distress characterized by a complete loss of energy. These findings are interpreted in light of the existential view that depicts life as absurd, but also suggests solutions that enable individuals to lead happy lives. The applicability of these solutions to online interactions with suicidal individuals may be examined in a future study.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternet and Suicide
EditorsLeo Sher, Alexander Vilens
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Pages169-184
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781617619632
ISBN (Print)9781607410775
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology

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