Stepping Back From Crisis Points: The Provision and Acknowledgment of Support in an Online Suicide Discussion Forum

Qual Health Res. 2016 Jul;26(9):1240-51. doi: 10.1177/1049732316633130. Epub 2016 Mar 1.


Suicide is a global health concern, though little is known about the social practices that might support those who are contemplating suicide. Online forums provide a unique insight into the anonymous discussion of suicide, including sociocultural norms about suicide and the delicate management of online interaction. In this article, we examine the provision and acknowledgment of support in an online discussion forum about suicide, using discursive psychology to analyze the textual interaction. The analysis illustrates how forum threads function as case studies and enable members to gain support on numerous occasions. In this way, members can gain help at crisis points as and when these occur, while still maintaining authenticity as a valid forum member. The analysis also provides additional evidence for models of suicide which highlight the fluid nature of suicidality and contributes to the preventative work on suicide by demonstrating how support can be provided at crisis points.

Keywords: discursive psychology; discussion forum; identity; online discourse; qualitative; suicide.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Social Support*
  • Suicide*