Communication As Lifeline: Communication Strategies in the Withdrawal from Suicidal Ideation

COMMUNICATION AS LIFELINE: COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES IN THE WITHDRAWAL FROM SUICIDAL IDEATION

Abstract
Despite the increasing trend of suicide rates in the Philippines, suicide is still underreported and misclassified because of the stigma attached to it. With communication considered as vital in most, if not all, aspects of individual’s life, it could also be important in helping Filipino teenagers contemplating suicide. Thus, this study aims to explain the interplay of intrapersonal and interpersonal strategies in every stage of withdrawal from suicidal ideation.

Through textual analysis, focus and key informant interviews, we found out that there are three phases in withdrawal from suicidal ideation which we derived from the Cognitive Dissonance Theory, namely: 1) Psychological discomfort; 2) Addition of consonant beliefs and reduction of dissonant beliefs; and 3) Change of dissonant beliefs.

Interpersonal communication helped in delaying suicide in the first phase of withdrawal from suicidal ideation through messages, verbal and non-verbal, that contradicted the negative thoughts that occur in the teenager’s intrapersonal communication. Because of the contradiction, the suicidal teenager experienced psychological discomfort in the initial phase. People involved and the messages in interpersonal communication affect the process more than the medium does. The message had to be something that implicitly disturbed the conscience of the teenager, while the people involved had to be the loved and respected figures in the lives of the teenagers.

On the other hand, intrapersonal communication functioned to let the suicidal teenager release, process and analyze thoughts. The most commonly used medium was rumination. Other methods were journal and diary-keeping, blogging, praying and painting. After the first phase of withdrawal, wherein intrapersonal communication works with interpersonal communication, the rest of the phases are left for thought-processing and decision-changing through intrapersonal communication.

After all the three phases, the teenager either withdrew from suicidal ideation by completely abandoning suicidal thoughts, or just delayed suicide for some time. In the latter case, the teenager had to go over the three phases again, but each time, with increased capability to adapt to and invalidate negative thoughts and to further delay suicide, which will aid him or her to completely withdraw from suicidal ideation later on.

View Thesis

Botor, J.B. & Sanchez J.E. (2012). Communication as Lifeline: Communication strategies in the Withdrawal from Suicidal Ideation. Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines-Diliman. College of Mass Communication

Keywords: Suicidal Ideation, Intrapersonal Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Withdrawal