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Dissertation Title:

Trauma, Trigger, Transformation: An Archetypal Approach to Adolescent Suicide Attempts


Yvonne Dolores Nelson-Reid

Date, Time & Place:

November 12, 2020 at 9:00 am


The continual rise in adolescent suicide rates is astonishing in an era where awareness and prevention programs are prevalent and help readily available. Families, therapists, and researchers struggle to understand why a young person would end their life before it has barely begun. Hillman believed that “to understand a suicide we need to know what mythic fantasy is being enacted” (1965/1997, pp. 51-52). Inspired by the researcher’s lived experience, this study considers adolescent suicide attempts from an archetypal and mythic perspective within the framework of Jungian psychology. Utilizing a hermeneutic methodology, four stories of adult women who attempted suicide in adolescence are explored and interpreted archetypally, a stance excluded from mainstream suicidology. The researcher found that unconscious motivations may have had an impact on the young women in this study at the time of their suicide attempts. Evidence of the archetypal experience of death/rebirth appear in their stories highlighting individuation, archetypal possession, shadow, anima/animus, and the Self, along with various symbols and myths as metaphors. These findings suggest that a depth psychological understanding of suicide may explain in part this desire to die as symbolic of transformation, the death of child-consciousness so that adult-consciousness can emerge, with the act of suicide an unconscious literalization of this very experience.


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  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Jungian and Archetypal Studies, Track ZZ, 2011
  • Chair: Dr. Keiron Le Grice
  • Reader: Dr. Kesstan Blandin
  • External Reader: Dr. Katherine Best
  • Keywords: Adolescent Suicide, Archetypal Possession, Individuation, Archetype, Mythic Fantasy