The discursive self-construction of suicidal help seekers in computer-mediated discourse

Authors

  • Irit Kupferberg The Shahak Research Center at Levinsky College of Education
  • Izhak Gilat Levinsky College of Education

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.v9i1.23

Keywords:

suicidal help seekers, self-construction, discourse analysis, positioning, online-support-group

Abstract

The study focuses on the discursive self-construction of suicidal help seekers in an open computer-mediated forum for mental help. Our theoretical framework is inspired by a functionalist approach to discourse, which emphasizes that language resources are selfdisplaying. It also espouses discursive psychology, which prioritizes the study of psychological and social phenomena in discursive processes. In addition, we adopt the Four World Approach to the analysis of positioning. Qualitative and quantitative analyses show that the density of ‘irrealis’ (i.e. negation, future and wishes) units and figurative forms was significantly higher in the suicidal messages compared with the messages of other troubled selves, who produced more ‘realis’ units (i.e. specific and generic stories) and information questions. We interpret these findings as showing that in their attempt to conceptualize conflict and pain, suicidal help-seekers shied away from the narration of past experience and focused instead on the construction of death. The other troubled help seekers used realis units and questions in order to describe their experience to guarantee that help would be provided.

Author Biographies

Irit Kupferberg, The Shahak Research Center at Levinsky College of Education

Irit Kupferberg is Director of The Shahak Research Center at Levinsky College of Education. Her research focuses on troubled communication and self construction in institutional discourse. She has published articles and authored and co-authored seven books including Researching Text and Discourse: A Rashomon of Research Methods (Ben Gurion University, 2010); Studies in Language and Language Education (The Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2008); Troubled Talk: Metaphorical Negotiation in Problem Discourse (Mouton de Gruyter, 2005).

Izhak Gilat, Levinsky College of Education

Itzhak Gilat is a psychologist and is lecturer and researcher at Levinsky College of Education. He is Director of the Internet section in ERAN, the Israeli Association for Emotional First Aid. His current research and publications focus on help-seeking behavior, crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

Published

2013-02-19

How to Cite

Kupferberg, I., & Gilat, I. (2013). The discursive self-construction of suicidal help seekers in computer-mediated discourse. Communication and Medicine, 9(1), 23–35. https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.v9i1.23

Issue

Section

Articles