Making sense of suicide: communicative suicide prevention based on help-seekers’ and volunteers’ meaning making on a suicide helpline

Primary investigator: Ph.D. Clara Iversen (Department of Sociology, Uppsala University).

Other investigators: Ph.D. Michael Westerlund (Department of Media Studies, Stockholm University) and Ph.D. Sebastian Kohl (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies).

Funding: The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte).

Duration: March 2018 - March 2021.

Project description: The project aims to develop a model for communicative suicide prevention by studying how suicide is made sense of in suicide helpline communication. Using inductive qualitative and quantitative methods, we set out to examine how suicidal persons, in interactions with volunteers in web- and phone-based suicide helpline interactions, negotiate the understanding of their situation.

The project has three phases:

  1. Conversation analysis of (a) how volunteers and help-seekers orient to entitlement to suicide thoughts and (b) the characteristics of protective responses.
  2. Conversation analysis, thematic analysis, and automatic document classification of the communication context with regards to different helpline settings, high- and low-risk communicative patterns, and information about preventive communication.
  3. Development of a model for communicative suicide prevention regarding risk detection, communication training for volunteers, and preventive information material to suicidal persons.