Surviving Thoughts of Suicide: Experiences of Having Suicidal Ideation and Not Acting upon Them

Prof Doc Thesis

Mahmood, A. 2019. Surviving Thoughts of Suicide: Experiences of Having Suicidal Ideation and Not Acting upon Them. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsMahmood, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

To date, research has indicated that suicide is a complex phenomenon which affects a significant number of people around the world. Various studies have suggested that there are more individuals who experience suicidal thoughts than those who attempt suicide and that there may be important distinctions between these two populations.
Despite this, most of the research thus far has focused on individuals who are more likely to act upon their suicidal thoughts, which seems to have led to a gap in the literature regarding the experience of individuals who do not act upon their suicidal thoughts. Research has emphasised the importance of gaining further insights into people’s subjective experiences of this complex phenomenon in order to develop enhanced interventions for those who are affected by suicide or suicidal ideation. The current study therefore, explores the subjective experiences of people who have had suicidal ideation but not acted upon them. The study used semi-structured interviews and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to explore the experiences of six participants who had suicidal thoughts and did not act upon them. One of the key themes that emerged included a sense of conflict wherein participants felt constant despair and a desire to punish themselves, fuelling a desire to die. Participants also expressed feelings of belonging and being in connection with others. The latter feelings were described to be contributing to participants’ desire to live. An additional theme that emerged was participants’ need to make meaning of their suffering. This included participants taking control of some aspects of their lives, for example through seeking support and taking an active approach in their recovery. Participants also expressed the importance of finding a purpose and meaning in their lives, such as a goal or direction to work towards. The study discusses how its findings can contribute to the overall understanding of suicide and suggests some ways in which current interventions for people affected by suicidal ideation can be tailored to their needs.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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PrintAug 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Nov 2019
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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