You are here

Relationship Among Linguistic Patterns, Thwarted Belongingness, Perceived Burdensomeness, and Suicidal Behavior

Title: The Relationship Among Linguistic Patterns, Thwarted Belongingness, Perceived Burdensomeness, and Suicidal Behavior: A Test of Joiner's Theory of Suicide.
Name(s): Williams, Foluso M., author
Jr., Thomas E. Joiner, professor directing dissertation
Corrigan, John, outside committee member
Akbar, Na'im, committee member
Plant, E. Ashby, committee member
Schatschneider, Chris, committee member
Department of Psychology, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2006
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Joiner's interpersonal and psychological theory of suicide (2005) defines thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness as essential correlates of suicidal behavior. To test this theory, belongingness and burdensomeness were examined specifically through the medium of writing. Linguistic patterns were analyzed in three separate studies using a linguistic analysis program (LIWC) developed by Pennebaker, Francis, and Booth (2001). Previous work suggests that first-person noun usage is associated with belongingness and suicide; therefore, these nouns were proposed to indicate belongingness and suicidality. The first study examined differences in language in notes from attempted and completed suicides. It was hypothesized that linguistic indicators of belongingness and human ratings of belongingness and burdensomeness would predict suicide status. Although this prediction was not confirmed, further analyses revealed important relationships between self-references, causal indicators, and references to others that may be potential differentiators between attempted and completed suicides. The second study examined linguistic changes over time as suicide approaches, using diaries of individuals who died by suicide and appropriate controls as comparisons. Although proposed linguistic indicators of belongingness remained unchanged over time, those who died by suicide used significantly higher references to optimism, certainty, and causality as their suicide approached. The third study examined whether measures of belongingness and burdensomeness were significantly associated with suicidality in college undergraduates. Proposed linguistic indicators of belongingness were not significantly associated with suicidality; however, psychological measures of burdensomeness accounted for a significant amount of the variance of suicidality, even when stringent controls of gender and depression were present. Burdensomeness and belongingness were significantly associated with linguistic indicators of positive and negative emotion, suggesting the possible roles that positive and negative emotions possess in determining suicidal behavior. Gender specific ways of achieving belongingness and fulfilling social roles were demonstrated in gender differences in writing. Such findings were proposed as likely explanations of how thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness account for gender differences in rates of suicide. First-person noun usage consistently failed to correlate with other measures of belongingness and suicide; other possible linguistic indicators of belongingness and burdensomeness were proposed. The possibilities and benefits of linguistic analysis to detect and prevent suicidal behavior were also discussed.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-0978 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Degree Awarded: Summer Semester, 2006.
Date of Defense: Date of Defense: March 15, 2006.
Keywords: Journals, Belongingness, Burdensomeness, Suicide Notes, LIWC, Linguistic Analysis, Writing Patterns
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory committee: Thomas E. Joiner Jr., Professor Directing Dissertation; John Corrigan, Outside Committee Member; Na'im Akbar, Committee Member; E. Ashby Plant, Committee Member; Chris Schatschneider, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Psychology
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Williams, F. M. (2006). The Relationship Among Linguistic Patterns, Thwarted Belongingness, Perceived Burdensomeness, and Suicidal Behavior: A Test of Joiner's Theory of Suicide. Retrieved from