Can writing autobiographical essays lessen suicidal thinking?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

To assess if autobiographical writing would lessen suicidal thinking, improve mood, or reduce health center visits, 49 undergraduates were randomly assigned to write about profound topics (e.g., highly stressful, traumatic, or guilty experiences) or trivial topics (e.g., objectively describing their bedroom or dorm room) for 15 minutes per day on 4 days during a 2-week period. Both groups completed pre-test, post-test, and 6-week follow-up measures of suicidal thinking and mood, and self-reported health-center visits at pre-test and follow-up. No significant differences were found between groups on suicidality or mood. However, the profound group reported a reduction in the number of health center visits from pre-test to follow-up that approached statistical significance (p = .06). Consistent with past research, writing about profound topics appeared to benefit physical health; however, the benefits did not extend to mental health, at least in terms of mood or suicidal thinking.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Range, LM; Kovac, SH

Published Date

  • December 1, 2002

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 6 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 373 - 382

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1381-1118

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/13811110214528

Citation Source

  • Scopus