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Planning on dying to live: A qualitative exploration of the alleviation of suicidal distress by having a suicide plan

Brand, Sarah ORCID:, Gibson, S and Benson, O 2015. Planning on dying to live: A qualitative exploration of the alleviation of suicidal distress by having a suicide plan. Suicidology Online 6 (2) , pp. 61-68.

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Suicide prevention is for the most part seen in terms of reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors for suicide, and having a suicide plan is considered to fall on the side of risk. Although it seems likely that the role of a suicide plan in a person’s life is more complex than this, there is to date little research exploring first-hand descriptions of suicidality in order to understand this role. The purpose of this study was to explore the therapeutic effects of having a suicide plan. Secondary, thematic analysis of data from a qualitative study aiming to understand first-hand experiences of the feeling of being suicidal was carried out. Having a suicide plan can function to reduce the immediate experience of suicidal distress through 1) providing a sense of control, and 2) relieving mental effort. Having a suicide plan provides a sense of control by: being ‘able to act’; ‘having an option’; and, ‘having an obstacle’. Having a suicide plan relieves mental effort by: providing resolution; reducing the need to control mental urges; fixing the future, where uncertainty about the future is relieved; and, things not mattering as much. Having a suicide plan can be a protective factor against suicide as well as an indicator of risk. Our analysis suggests that an exploration of both the costs and benefits to someone of having a suicide plan would inform appropriate intervention design for people in suicidal distress.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Vienna, Austria : Medical University of Vienna, Department of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy
ISSN: 2078-5488
Date of Acceptance: 18 May 2015
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2022 09:26

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