Suicide Notes of Adolescents: A Life-Span Comparison

By Leenaars, Antoon A; Erik Jan de Wilde et al. | Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, January 2001 | Go to article overview

Suicide Notes of Adolescents: A Life-Span Comparison

Leenaars, Antoon A, Erik Jan de Wilde, Wenckstern, Susanne, Kral, Michael, Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science


Utilizing suicide notes as the data source, this study begins to explore some psychological dimensions in adolescent suicide and to identify the differences and similarities of suicide across the life span. The method called for 80 notes, representing four developmental ages (i.e., adolescents, young adults, middle adults, old adults) to be analyzed for specific protocols on eight categories, i.e., unbearable pain, cognitive constriction, indirect expressions, inability to adjust, ego, interpersonal relations, rejection-aggression, and identification-egression. Despite similarities, the results identify that the suicide of teens may be more highly related to cognitive constriction, indirect expressions, rejection-aggression, and identification-egression, than other age groups. Further research beyond the suicides' own narratives, for example, third-party interviews, study of attempters, is needed to replicate and extend the current findings.


A partir d'une source de donnees constitute de lettres de suicide, cette etude commence a explorer certaines dimensions psychologiques du suicide chez l'adolescent, ainsi qu'a identifier et a definir les differences et les similarites du suicide sur la duree de la vie humaine. La methode emprunte quatre-vingts lettres, ecrites par des personnel appartenant a quatre Ages de developpement (c.-a-d. des adolescents, des jeunes adultes, des adultes d'Age moyen et des adultes ages), qui sont analysees en fonction de protocoles precis c-a-d., la douleur insupportable, la constriction cognitive, les expressions indirectes, l'inaptitude a s'adapter, l'ego, les relations interpersonnelles, le rejet-- agression et l'identification-egression. Malgre les ressemblances, les resultats permettent de determiner que le suicide chez les adolescents peut etre davantage lie a la constriction cognitive, aux expressions indirectes, au rejetagression et a l'identification-egression, que pour tout autre groupe d'age. Une recherche allant au-dela des textes narratifs des personnel qui se sont suicidees, par exemple, des entrevues avec les survivants, des etudes de personnes qui ont fait des tentatives de suicide, doit etre entreprise afin de repliquer et d'approfondir les conclusions actuelles.

Suicide is a major cause of death in the young (Berman & Jobes, 1991; Bertolote, 1993). This event is truly tragic because life expectancy for adolescents is the greatest in terms of both the interval of years lost and the diversity of experience that should await them (Leenaars, 1991). Official suicide statistics, which have been proven to be underestimates (e.g., Jobes, Berman, & Josselsen, 1987), nevertheless show that up to 20% of all male deaths and 28% of female deaths among adolescents in the industrialized world are caused by suicide. Among adolescents, suicide ranks among the first three causes of death. These shocking descriptive statistics are truly alarming, calling for greater research efforts.

Despite increasing research efforts (see King, 1997; Lester, 1992), the psychological factors for suicide in this age group remain largely unexplored. There is a growing body of empirically based knowledge, but, like much of suicidology, these studies are atheoretical (Leenaars, DeLeo, Diekstra et al., 1997) and provide limited insight into the suicidal mind of a young person. There are, in fact, very few studies that are able to give an insight into the reasons why young persons decide to end their lives (King, 1997). In addition, the opportunities that are available for potential explanations, given the very nature of the act, are limited (Maris, 1981). Shneidman and Farberow (1957), Maris (1981), and others have suggested the following sources: mortality data/statistics, the study of nonfatal suicide attempters, third-party interviews, and documents (including personal documents). Most studies in suicide have used one of these methods, with few, if any, using more than one method. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Suicide Notes of Adolescents: A Life-Span Comparison


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.