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Linguistic features of suicidal thoughts and behaviors: A systematic review


Homan, Stephanie; Gabi, Marion; Klee, Nina; Bachmann, Sandro; Moser, Ann-Marie; Duri, Martina; Michel, Sofia; Bertram, Anna-Maria; Maatz, Anke; Seiler, Guido; Stark, Elisabeth; Kleim, Birgit (2022). Linguistic features of suicidal thoughts and behaviors: A systematic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 95:102161.

Abstract

Language is a potential source of predictors for suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs), as changes in speech characteristics, communication habits, and word choice may be indicative of increased suicide risk. We reviewed the current literature on STBs that investigated linguistic features of spoken and written language. Specifically, we performed a search in linguistic, medical, engineering, and general databases for studies that investigated linguistic features as potential predictors of STBs published in peer-reviewed journals until the end of November 2021.We included 75 studies that investigated 279,032 individuals with STBs (age = 29.53 ± 10.29, 35% females). Of those, 34 (45%) focused on lexicon, 20 (27%) on prosody, 15 (20%) on lexicon and first-person singular, four (5%) on (morpho)syntax, and two (3%) were unspecified. Suicidal thoughts were predicted by more intensifiers and superlatives, while suicidal behaviors were predicted by greater usage of pronouns, changes in the amount of verb usage, more prepend and multifunctional words, more nouns and prepositions, and fewer modifiers and numerals. A diverse field of research currently investigates linguistic predictors of STBs, and more focus is needed on their specificity for either suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Abstract

Language is a potential source of predictors for suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs), as changes in speech characteristics, communication habits, and word choice may be indicative of increased suicide risk. We reviewed the current literature on STBs that investigated linguistic features of spoken and written language. Specifically, we performed a search in linguistic, medical, engineering, and general databases for studies that investigated linguistic features as potential predictors of STBs published in peer-reviewed journals until the end of November 2021.We included 75 studies that investigated 279,032 individuals with STBs (age = 29.53 ± 10.29, 35% females). Of those, 34 (45%) focused on lexicon, 20 (27%) on prosody, 15 (20%) on lexicon and first-person singular, four (5%) on (morpho)syntax, and two (3%) were unspecified. Suicidal thoughts were predicted by more intensifiers and superlatives, while suicidal behaviors were predicted by greater usage of pronouns, changes in the amount of verb usage, more prepend and multifunctional words, more nouns and prepositions, and fewer modifiers and numerals. A diverse field of research currently investigates linguistic predictors of STBs, and more focus is needed on their specificity for either suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of German Studies
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Romance Studies
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Special Collections > Centers of Competence > Competence Centre Language and Medicine Zurich
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:410 Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Suicidal thoughts and behavior, Linguistic features, Prosody, Lexicon, First-person singular, (morpho)syntax, Psychiatry and Mental health, Clinical Psychology
Language:English
Date:1 July 2022
Deposited On:25 May 2022 15:39
Last Modified:29 Jan 2024 02:39
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0272-7358
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2022.102161
PubMed ID:35636131
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)