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Linguistic analysis of suicide notes in Spain

By Mercedes Fernández-Cabana, Julio Jiménez-Féliz, María Teresa Alves-Pérez, Raimundo Mateos, Ignacio Gómez-Reino Rodríguez and Alejandro García-Caballero

Abstract

Background and Objectives: Text analysis software like "Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count" (LIWC) has been used for the analysis of suicide notes and suicidal texts in English. This is the first analysis of suicide notes using this method in Spanish and, as far as we know, its first application to suicide notes in Europe. To compare the sociodemographic and forensic characteristics of a consecutive sample of suicide victims studying the differences between those who left suicidal note and those who did not. To study a sample of suicidal notes from Spain using LIWC, comparing it's linguistic features by gender, age and environment. Methods: 144 consecutive suicide cases were analyzed. 23 suicide notes obtained from this sample were processed using LIWC, the results were compared by gender, age and environment of the author. Results: People who left suicide notes were younger than non- writers; more frequently single, divorced or widowed and emotional troubles were reported as frequent triggers. Suicide notes written by women were significantly longer, had more emotional content, tentative expressions, denials, pronouns in first person plural and verbs in past and future tenses. Urban cases showed higher emotional expression and word complexity whereas rural cases showed a higher use of social words. Conclusions: Our study shows some differences between people who left suicide note and those who didn't and confirms the LIWC ability to detect differences in suicidal speech by gender and by the rural/ urban background of its authors

Topics: Suicide, Language, Suicidal note, LIWC, Gender, Medicine, R, Internal medicine, RC31-1245, Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry, RC321-571, Neurology. Diseases of the nervous system, RC346-429, Psychiatry, RC435-571
Publisher: Universidad de Zaragoza
DOI identifier: 10.4321/S0213-61632015000200006
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:18d2607352184676acbd630ced52de28
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