Experience of suicidal thoughts: A discourse analytic study.


  • Dariusz Galasiński University of Wolverhampton, UK
  • Justyna Ziółkowska University of Social Sciences and Humanities




discourse analysis, psychiatric interview, suicidal ideation, suicidology


In the paper we explore the relationship between current psychiatric thinking on suicide and service users’ accounts of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. The data comes from recordings of psychiatric interviews collected in three psychiatric hospitals in Poland. Assuming a constructionist view of discourse we argue that the literature on suicide ignores and simplifies the experience of those who think about suicide and attempt to commit it and constructs their experiences as a homogeneous group of ‘thoughts’ only with content (without form). We also offer a preliminary insight into the complexity of ‘suicide thoughts, as narrated by those reporting them. We demonstrate that they are marginalised and made relatively irrelevant in the accounts of attempted suicide. Additionally, we demonstrate that while women construct suicide attempts (whether actually attempted in the end or not) as at least potentially beyond their control, men’s narratives very show them in control of the attempt, as if choosing an available option. We conclude by exploring possibilities of further qualitative discourse analytic research which builds on the findings we present here.

Author Biographies

Dariusz Galasiński, University of Wolverhampton, UK

Dariusz Galasiński is Professor of Discourse and Cultural Studies at the University of Wolverhampton. His current research interests focus upon experience of mental illness.

Justyna Ziółkowska, University of Social Sciences and Humanities

Justyna Ziółkowska is Assistant Professor in Psychology at University of Social Sciences and Humanities (SWPS), Poland. Her research interests concentrate on experience of mental illness and discourses of psychiatric care.



How to Cite

Galasiński, D., & Ziółkowska, J. (2014). Experience of suicidal thoughts: A discourse analytic study. Communication and Medicine, 10(2), 117-127. https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.v10i2.117