Reason for cautious optimism? Two studies suggesting reduced stigma against suicide

J Clin Psychol. 2010 Jun;66(6):611-26. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20691.


We present data from two studies that aimed to investigate stigma against suicide. In Study 1, we employed Milgram et al.'s (1965) "lost letter" technique. We predicted that fewer letters addressed to a fictitious organization with the word "suicide" in its name would be returned than letters addressed to fictitious heart disease or diabetes organizations, presumably due to stigma. Contrary to expectation, there were no differences in the percentage of letters returned for each condition, despite power to detect small effects. In Study 2 we compared scores on the Suicide Opinion Questionnaire (SOQ; Domino, Gibson, Poling, & Westlake, 1980) from a study published in 1988 (Domino, MacGregor, & Hannah, 1988) to scores from a study conducted 19 years later. Results demonstrated reduced stigma toward suicide, with the belief that suicide is morally bad exhibiting the largest change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arizona
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Stereotyping*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult