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The Experience of Agency in the Feeling of Being Suicidal

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Based on a qualitative study with 124 participants we explore what is in ordinary language referred to as 'suicidal feelings'. We identify four interrelated aspects of this experience, which together suggest that 'suicidal feelings' is in fact a 'feeling of being suicidal', an existential feeling. Although each experience is unique in its presentation, it is also the case that people who are suicidal tend to experience a combination of the following: 1) loss of consistency and/ or coherence in their sense of self; 2) a disruption in the reciprocal action between self and world; 3) serious depletion of their mental resources; and 4) a disturbance of embodiment. We then argue that 'the feeling of being suicidal' should be understood as a disruption in the experience of the self as an agent and that this forms the appropriate background for interpreting suicidal thoughts and intentions.

Keywords: Suicide;; agency; existential feelings; self; suicidal feelings

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: SANE, London

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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