Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Cheryl Meyer (Committee Chair), Eve Wolf (Committee Member), Betty Yung (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Schneidman (1957) wrote that acts of suicide were attempts to escape from unbearable and intense psychological pain, or "psychache." In this study, we analyzed suicides wherein we determined that the primary motivation for the suicidal act was escape from physical or psychological pain. The analysis incorporated information regarding the content of suicide notes, investigators' reports, and databases from an urban Midwestern metropolitan area coroner's office. The analysis contained demographics, expressed life problems of the decedents, characteristics of the suicide, suicide note contents and suicide note themes. We found that the samples in which escape was determined as the primary motivation for suicide were similar to the overall samples, suggesting that escape from psychological or physical pain may be a unifying characteristic of suicidal thought and action. We presented implications from the findings for loved ones of suicide victims and helping professionals. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research were also discussed.

Page Count


Department or Program

School of Professional Psychology

Year Degree Awarded


Included in

Psychology Commons