Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Erin K. Willer, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Dinah Loerke

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Suter


Crip theory, Critical health communication, Critical suicidology, Health communication, Narrative methods, Suicide


Estimations suggest that one person in the United States tries to take their own life every 38 seconds (Yeager & Roberts, 2015, p. 38), making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the nation (AFSP, 2016). Despite the prevalence of this issue, communication surrounding suicidality remains scarce - as do concrete understandings of what causes the desire to die in the first place. Dominant understandings link suicidality to chemical/neurobiological issues in the brain (mental illnesses), but these claims have not yet been scientifically proven (Hjelmeland, Dieserud, Dyregrov, Knizek, & Leenaars, 2012) and, as this study suggests, biomedical aspects of suicide are only part of a much larger picture. In critically analyzing firsthand narratives of suicidality as they are shared by attempt survivors, this work blends crip theory frameworks with narrative methods to better understand how people experience suicidality, what brings them to attempt, and how treatment for survivors could be improved. Within these narratives, survivors make sense of their suicidality in hybrid forms by utilizing biomedical frameworks while also describing social causes for their attempts, notably including the ableist Othering of people deemed "mentally ill." Through this analysis, what results is a fuller understanding of how people make sense of suicidal inclinations from an insider-perspective, as well as a set of "crip" critiques that implicate psychiatric hospitals and other biomedical care facilities as sites of oppression and abuse.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Emily Krebs


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

151 p.


Communication, Social Work, Sociology