Dissertation Title:

Suicide Notes: Untethering the Unconscious Voice of Adolescent Suicidality


Kathryn Held

Date, Time & Place:

January 15, 2024 at 11:00 am


Adolescent and young adult suicide is pervasive in the modern social landscape despite a multitude of efforts toward prevention. Although many studies have made in-depth attempts to understand the act, this study provides alternative ways of working with suicide, including depathologizing the discussion and utilizing novel methods to increase understanding of the language of suicide notes. In a qualitative phenomenological methodology, the researcher utilized a Lacanian lens paired with I Poems, a tool drawn from The Listening Guide (Gilligan et al., 2003), to conceptualize 24 adolescent and young adult suicide notes. From these 24 notes, the results of this study demonstrated six salient themes: Identity Assertions, consisting of two subcategories, Identity Sorry and Identity Not; Hostility and Dismissal; Demands and Instructions; Rejection of the Other; Lack of Mastery; and Manifestations of Narcissism. Although prior research has confirmed similar findings, Identity Assertions and its two subcategories appeared as new elements in this research. A significant focus of the study is the development of alternatives to punitiveness for delivering consequences to young adults that will positively impact the trajectory of youth identity.


suicide, depth psychology, adolescence, prevention, Lacan, discourse, identity, punishment

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology with Emphasis in Depth Psychology, OP, 2019
  • Chair: Dr. Elizabeth Schewe
  • Reader: Dr. Samuel McCormick
  • External Reader: Dr. Megan Frazier
  • Keywords: Suicide, Depth Psychology, Adolescence, Prevention, Lacan, Discourse, Identity, Punishment