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Exploring the Interpersonal Communication Aspects of Suicide: A Research Agenda for Communi-Suicidology
Unformatted Document Text:  Interpersonal Communication Aspects of Suicide 12 suicidal intent is communicated by a large majority of completed suicides, then something must be wrong with the response. Many people may not take suicide threats seriously enough. In an examination of parasuicides, or individuals who attempted suicide but survived, Coombs et al. (1992) found that: About half of those in our sample stated that they had disclosed suicidal symptoms or made direct statements of suicidal intentions to their caregivers. In most cases, however, even the mental health professionals did not note suicidal thinking or risk of suicide as significant problems or include these in their diagnoses. It is tempting to believe that this lack was instrumental in the failure of the interaction to prevent the suicide attempt. (p. 301) Typically, responses to suicidal disclosures are not treated seriously. However, this mentality may be changing. Before terrorists attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001 many people were reluctant to take bomb threats very seriously either. Now, a “better safe than sorry” mentality is becoming evident. Suicide should also be considered with the same level of gravity. Communication research is desperately needed in this area to determine the effectiveness of responses to the suicidal individual. Persuasion is a major part of the preventative response. Communication researchers need to apply their knowledge of persuasive processes to determine how to persuade individuals

Authors: Miraldi, Peter.
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Interpersonal Communication Aspects of Suicide 12
suicidal intent is communicated by a large majority of completed
suicides, then something must be wrong with the response.
Many people may not take suicide threats seriously enough.
In an examination of parasuicides, or individuals who attempted
suicide but survived, Coombs et al. (1992) found that:
About half of those in our sample stated that they had
disclosed suicidal symptoms or made direct statements of
suicidal intentions to their caregivers. In most cases,
however, even the mental health professionals did not note
suicidal thinking or risk of suicide as significant problems
or include these in their diagnoses. It is tempting to
believe that this lack was instrumental in the failure of
the interaction to prevent the suicide attempt. (p. 301)
Typically, responses to suicidal disclosures are not treated
seriously. However, this mentality may be changing. Before
terrorists attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001 many people
were reluctant to take bomb threats very seriously either. Now, a
“better safe than sorry” mentality is becoming evident. Suicide
should also be considered with the same level of gravity.
Communication research is desperately needed in this area to
determine the effectiveness of responses to the suicidal
individual. Persuasion is a major part of the preventative
response. Communication researchers need to apply their knowledge
of persuasive processes to determine how to persuade individuals


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