Talking Suicide

Open access

Abstract

The present article discusses intimate conversations about suicide that are pursued on the Internet. Computer-mediated communication has made it possible for participants to remain anonymous and, simultaneously, enter into a public space to share personal thoughts about a stigmatized and taboo subject. This has also created new and unique opportunities to study a type of communication that was previously very difficult to access. Most of the participants on the studied forum are teenagers or young adults who communicate based on a need to recognize themselves in others, and to receive acknowledgement for their thoughts, feelings and experiences, thereby gaining acceptance and understanding. However, there are also destructive elements in the form of an exchange of suicide methods and participants exhorting each other to go ahead with their suicide plans. Moreover, participants are able to practise suicide behaviour in a mediated, conversational form, thereby making the act seem less fearful. The participants are furthermore involved in constructing and re-constructing a counter-discourse in which established society’s perceptions and values concerning suicide are questioned, as expressed in a critique against public institutions, mainly psychiatry.

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