Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Elsie P. Jackson

Second Advisor

Hinsdale Bernard

Third Advisor

Kebede Daka



Suicide is a problem globally and in the United States. Suicide rates for youth have remained particularly high. Caucasian men complete more suicidal acts than women, but women are more frequent suicide attempters. To gain information about the phenomenon of female suicide attempting, it is important to study the attempter. Awareness of risk and protective factors is necessary to intervene and prevent future incidences of suicide and suicide attempting.


For this research a descriptive case study design was utilized. Three suicide attempters who had attempted suicide one or more times in the past was the sample population for this study. Structured and unstructured interviews were administered to the participants. Interviews were audio taped, transcribed, and analyzed for common themes.


Twelve themes were found in this study. Six themes emerged as answers to question #1--What are the risk factors for attempting suicide? (1) Previous suicide attempts, (2) Mental Disorders, (3) Alcohol and drug abuse, (4) Family and childhood dynamics, (5) Lack of communication about the suicide attempt, (6) Tragic losses.

Four themes emerged as answers to questions #2--What are the protective factors for the prevention of attempting suicide? (7) Being responsible for self-care, (8) Positive relationships, (9) Keeping busy helping others, (10) Recreation.

Two themes emerged as answers to question #3--What impact does the failed attempt have on the life of a suicide attempter? (11) Looking beyond themselves: A Higher Power, (12) An inner perspective: A bonus life.


From this study, it can be concluded that women who have previous suicide attempts, have experienced alcohol and drug abuse and some tragic losses, have less than positive family and other relationships, and who do not take responsibility for self-care are at risk for attempting suicide. However, when one attempts suicide and does not complete it, she experiences an inner perspective referred to as the bonus life.

Subject Area

Women--Suicidal behavior; Suicidal behavior--Risk factors


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