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The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde's Open Access research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by University of Strathclyde researchers, including by researchers from the Department of Computer & Information Sciences involved in mathematically structured programming, similarity and metric search, computer security, software systems, combinatronics and digital health.

The Department also includes the iSchool Research Group, which performs leading research into socio-technical phenomena and topics such as information retrieval and information seeking behaviour.

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Doing being 'on the edge' : managing the dilemma of being authentically suicidal in an online forum

Horne, Judith and Wiggins, S. (2009) Doing being 'on the edge' : managing the dilemma of being authentically suicidal in an online forum. Sociology of Health and Illness, 31 (2). pp. 170-184. ISSN 0141-9889

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Abstract

Those who attempt suicide have often been described as 'crying for help', and there are implications if such cries are not taken seriously. This paper examines how users of an Internet forum for 'suicidal thoughts' work up their authenticity in their opening posts, and how these are responded to by fellow forum users. Data were taken from two Internet forums on suicide over a period of one month and were analysed using discursive psychology. The analysis demonstrates that participants display their authenticity through four practices: narrative formatting, going 'beyond' depression, displaying rationality and not explicitly asking for help. Furthermore, both initial and subsequent posts worked up identities as being psychologically 'on the edge' of life and death. The analysis suggests that the forum in part works as a site for suicidal identities to be tested out, authenticated and validated by individuals. We conclude with some suggestions for the supportive work of suicide 'postvention'.