Date of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Sei-Hill Kim

Second Reader

Michael McCall


Using suicidal language as a hyperbole in everyday conversation has become common for college students experiencing stress. Previous research analyzed use of suicidal language on social media with the intention of finding the best way to provide help to the individuals expressing true suicidal ideation on social media but found that many people do not literally mean what they are saying when they use suicidal language. It was hypothesized that the frequency with which individuals use suicidal statements figuratively as well as the frequency with which they hear others use these statements would negatively correlate with the level of seriousness the individual assumes another person is when they hear them use suicidal statements figuratively. Additionally, it was hypothesized that personal use of these statements would be positively correlated with the frequency that individuals experience others use this language. Results from a survey of college students showed a significant negative correlation between individuals’ own frequency of use and the seriousness they assume others mean what they are saying when they use these statements in person. Additionally, there was also a correlation between others’ frequency of use and the seriousness the individual assumes others mean it. There was also a significant positive correlation between individuals’ own use and the frequency of use by others in person and on social media. Additional research can further explore the figurative use of this language by other age groups and longitudinally to better examine the effects it has on the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health.

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© 2024, Makayla Hooker