I am having difficulty keeping up with my homework...I go to school/work all day and then when I get home I REALLY don't want to do homework, I just want to relax. This means that I am getting behind on my reading and am not prioritizing my assignments. I have about 10-50 pages per class to read every night (yes, I know I am going to law school and should just get used to it) and I am just not doing it. This past week I didn't schedule time to write a paper, and so it didn't get done. This was a paper that required hours and hours of research...as it is my capstone paper...well, it's due today, so by my actions from the week before, I chose to do an all-nighter last night. I also needed to study for a beefy test that is happening today.
So I experienced the first all-nighter of my senior year- I thought it was going to be awful but I am interested in the topic I am researching so it wasn't bad at all. Plus, my best friend Kelton was pulling a wee-nighter (into the wee hours of the morning) and so we were able to check up on each other every hour or so. So, while the all-nighter wasn't that bad, I do work better with sleep, and my paper would have been written faster if I scheduled time. Also, while I don't feel tired today, the world seems farther away and harder to concentrate on- kind of out of body-ish. Also, I am rambling about a common occurrence in college, and I'm not sure if I am being interesting or not. Ah well. Back to my Diet Dew (my stomach is hurting a little from the caffeine- I should have eaten more than a banana this morning) and participating in my class.
Oh...and if you are interested in what I wrote last night (yes it's only 4 pages, but it took a LOT of research, just wait until I get to my lit review) I have pasted it below. This is just my introduction to my paper. Let me know what you think....oh and have a good day.
When I am dead, and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain drenched hair,
Tho’ you should lean above me broken hearted,
I shall not care.
For I shall have peace.
As leafey trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough.
And I shall be more silent and cold hearted
Than you are now. (Teasdale, 1915)
The above poem was written by American Poet Sara Teasdale, who wrote the verse in her suicide note before she chose death by overdosing on sleeping pills. In the United States, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and in 2010, accounted nationally for 12.43% of deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (2012). The demographics with the highest rates of suicide in the most recent year for which figures were available (2010), were in whites (14.13%), males (19.95%) and the age bracket of 55-59 (19.85%). In America there is a cluster of states that have a drastically higher rate of suicide fatalities (Wray, 2008), with suicide being the 7th leading cause of death. Those states include (in order of highest suicide percentage) Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho, Colorado, Utah and Arizona (CDC, 2012). These states make up what is known as the suicide belt, with an average of 19.55% suicide rate, which is more than 7% higher than the national average. In those states, the second leading cause of death is suicide in ages 10-34, compared to the national average where only the 25-34 age group has suicide as the second leading cause of death.
Sucidology often asks what the motive for suicide is, and there are several theories that address that question (Fine, 1997). Likewise, some research has been done on common themes in suicide notes in the United States. However, there does seem to be a lack of research that compares the differences in the suicide rates and subsequently the notes, across different areas of the nation. A content analysis of suicide notes from within and without the suicide belt may provide insight into the differences between those eight states and the rest of the nation; which may provide a unique view and a new awareness of the themes that are more or less present in suicide notes from the region with a higher suicide rate. This new research may be able to aid the path to comprehending the suicidal abnormality in the region; and with that understanding, perhaps new solutions to preventing the tragedies may be found.
While comparing the suicide belt’s notes to the rest of the country has not been broached, the study of suicide is by no means a new field. The subject has been heavily researched since the early twentieth century, and the work is quite broad. The majority of the research seems to be approached from a psychological method. For the purposes of this paper the current research will be divided into two sections: that research which looks into the “why” of suicide, and the research that analyzes the themes of suicide. Edland and Duncan (1973) provided a selection of motives of suicidal fatalities that included retaliatory abandonment, retroflexed murder, reunion, rebirth and self-punishment. Maris (2000) found different drives behind suicide and defined them as rescue, reunion, respite, rigidity, gamble, rebirth, revenge, riddance and reparation. Canetto (2002) analyzed themes in notes based on a gender comparison, while other studies focused on a broader sample but narrowed in on individual themes (e.g. blame as a defense) (McClelland, 2000). The most applicable in depth thematic analysis (outside the framework used for this research) was found in Messner’s (2000) research which posited that a desire for “Order may function as a ‘common denominator’ to suicide” (p.3). Messner approached the textual analysis through a lens of Burke’s Purification ritual (1973) and found three thematic restoration strategies in the suicide notes: Expressions of Guilt, Expressions of Shame, and Transcendence. Messner used Carroll’s (1985) framework for the Expressions of Guilt section, which included remorse, reparation, purification, rationalization, envy and resentment, depression, and anxiety; Messner added sadism to that list. In the Expressions of Shame category, Messner applied Marrison’s (1996) framework which incorporated statements relating to, “I’m Pathetic”, “I’m ridiculous”, “I’m so weak”, “I’m such a loser”, and “There is something wrong with me”. Messner categorized four themes in the Transcendence category: response to physical pain, assumption of afterlife, denial of guilt and avocation of suicide.
The research in this paper will rely on Rodgers’s Existential-Constructivist Theory of Suicide (2007) and follow the frame work in his content analysis, the Existential-Constructivist Model of Suicide (2007a). The model suggests that the “existential concerns related to death, the inherent meaninglessness of existence, and existential isolation provide the underlying, albeit distal, motivation for the construction of meaning” (p.182). The four-factor motivational model directs attention to reasons of somatic, relational, spiritual and psychological. The somatic category includes motivations that are biologically based. This can include terminal illness, chronic pain or other quality of life issues. Relational motivations focus on the social motivations, such as the quality and quantity of social support, interpersonal dynamics, and other social interactions. The spiritual category appears to be the broadest as it can include group spirituality or a personal one, with or without religion; the motivation contains explanations that voice a desire to be with a higher power or a loved one, but also the motivation of self-punishment and self-hate. The final category, psychological motivations, relates to any intense psychological pain where death is perceived as the only escape or relief. This can come from a loss of control, disrupted relationships, humiliation or excessive, overpowering emotions. With this theory and framework, a contextual analysis will be performed on a sampling of notes from states within and without the suicide belt, and the difference in the amount of occurrences in each category will be noted.
The purpose of this research is to empirically examine suicide notes within the established framework to determine whether the frequency of occurrences of the themes in the notes is dissimilar in the stated regions with higher suicide rates.
Burke, K. (1973). The philosophy of literary form. Berkley, CA: University of California.
Carrol, J. (1985). Guilt: The grey eminence behind the character, history and culture. Boston, MA: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Injury Prevention & Control: Data & Statistics (WISQARS). Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal_injury_reports.html
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