Long Story Short, I Survived: An Exploration of the Meaning-making Stories of Suicide Attempt Survivors

Claire Lynn Culajara *

Graduate School, School of Counseling and Psychology, Davao Del Sur, Philippines.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


This study aimed to explore how suicide attempt survivors construe meaning in their experiences. Using the case study approach by Robert Yin (2009), qualitative research was employed. Purposive and snowballing techniques were used to gather data from primary interviews, key informants, and psychological assessment tools. The analytic techniques were thematic and cross-case syntheses. The findings revealed the participants' earlier experiences such as relationship breakdowns and prior nonsuicidal self-injury behaviors were risk indicators of suicide attempt. However unique cases were due to same-sex attraction and gender identity issues. Protective factors included social support, effective control over situations, and reason for living. The study identified five themes of meaning-making: strengthening social connections, positive religious coping: a belief in the presence of a Higher Power (God), developing new perspective to life, value positioning on gratitude and grit, and optimism. The study highlights the importance of holistic approach that recognizes the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of suicide. This study has implications for families, social communities, practitioners and future researchers to investigate and broaden the breadth of these relationships for theory and practice. In conclusion, the urgency of this research stemmed from the need to address the rising global suicide rate and enhance suicide prevention efforts. By amplifying the perspectives of suicide attempt survivors and exploring the multifaceted nature of suicide, this research can be ultimately contributing to the preservation of lives and the reduction of the worldwide burden associated with suicide.

Keywords: Meaning-making, before suicide attempt, after the suicide attempt, uicide attempt survivor, suicide attempt experience

How to Cite

Culajara , Claire Lynn. 2023. “Long Story Short, I Survived: An Exploration of the Meaning-Making Stories of Suicide Attempt Survivors”. Asian Journal of Education and Social Studies 49 (3):10-28. https://doi.org/10.9734/ajess/2023/v49i31130.


Download data is not yet available.


World Health Organization. Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative. Journal of Global Health. 2021;10(2):123-136.

World Health Organization. Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative; 2015. Available:https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241564779.

Conejero I, Olié E, Courtet P, Calati R. Suicide in Older Adults: Current Perspectives. Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2018;13:691–699.

Liu, Ruixue T. Suicidal Behavior and Risk Factors in Adolescents. Current Opinion in Psychology. 2022;43:128-132.

Beghi M, Peroni F, Gabola P, Rossetti E, Cornaggia CM. Risk of Repetition of Suicide Attempts and Suicide Death Following Non-Fatal Self-Harm: A Nationwide Registry Study in Italy. European Psychiatry. 2021;64(1):e9.

Szlyk, Hannah S, Gulbis, Elizabeth E, Zayas, Luis H. Suicide Prevention and Intervention: Current State and Future Directions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019;16(21):4159.

Synnott A, Ioannou M, Coyne I, Hemingway S. Suicide prevention for people who have self- harmed: A practical guide. Br J Nurs. 2018;27(17):986-92.

Runeson B, Haglund A, Lichtenstein P, Tidemalm D. Suicide risk after nonfatal self-harm: A national cohort study, 2000-2008. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(6):575-82.

Khan AR, Arendse N, Ratele K. Suicide prevention in Bangladesh: the current state and the way forward. Asian Soc Work Policy Rev. 2021;15(1):15-23.

Martinez AG, Lau JTF, Brown R. Lay beliefs towards suicide and help- seeking behaviors among young adults in the Philippines. Arch Suicide Res. 2020; 24(2):282-96. DOI: 10.1080/13811118.2018.1539466.

Pereira M, Willhelm AR, Koller SH, Almeida GP. The process of meaning-making among suicide survivors: A grounded theory study. Rev Lat-Am Enferm. 2018;26:e3070. DOI: 10.1590/1518-8345.2626.3070.

Potter JL. Suicide and Filipino religiosity. Asian J Psychiatry. 2021;61:102755.

Coronel SC. Suicide and sensationalism in the Philippines. Asia Pac Media Educ. 2019;29(1):15-25.

Tee ML, Tee CA, Anlacan JP, Aligam KJG, Reyes PWC, Kuruchittham V et al. Psychological impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines. J Affect Disord. 2020;277:379-91.

Quintos MA. Predictors of suicide ideation among the Filipino youth: findings from a nationally representative survey of Filipinos aged 15 to 27; 2018.

Klonsky ED, May AM, Saffer BY. Suicide, suicide attempts, and suicidal ideation. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2016;12:307-30.

DOI: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-021815-093204

Joiner TEE. The interpersonal theory of suicide: guidance for working with suicidal clients. American Psychological Association; 2009.

DOI: 10.1037/11873-000.

Stone BM. A positive psychology framework for why people use substances: implications for treatment. Front Psychol. 2022;13:1017186.

DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1017186

Martela F, Steger MF. The three meanings of meaning in life: distinguishing coherence, purpose, and significance. J Posit Psychol. 2022;17(1):1-11.

DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2021.1964536

Stolarski M, Bitner J, Zawadzka AM. Emotional resilience and optimism: the contribution of time perspective. Front Psychol. 2021;12:596995.

Spillane A, Matvienko-Sikar K, Larkin C, Corcoran P. Suicide survivors’ experiences of therapy: A systematic review and thematic synthesis. J Affect Disord. 2019; 259:201-19.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.08.010.

Creswell JW. Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches. Sage Publications; 2007.

Ryff CD. Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1989;57(6):1069-81.

Steger MF, Frazier P, Oishi S, Kaler M. The meaning in life questionnaire: assessing the presence of and search for meaning in life. J Couns Psychol. 2006; 53(1):80-93.

DOI: 10.1037/0022-0167.53.1.80.

Yin RK. Case study research: design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE; 2003.

Creswell JW, Creswell W. Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach. 5th ed. Sage Publications; 2018.

Lincoln YS, Guba EG. Naturalistic inquiry. Sage Publications; 1985.

Khosknab F, Zarei N, Salehi M, Mohammadi R, Sarbakhsh P. A qualitative study on the lived experiences of Iranian adolescents who attempted suicide: A content analysis; 2023.

Veglia F, Di Fini G. Life themes and interpersonal motivational systems in the narrative self-construction. Front Psychol. 2017;8:Article 1897.

DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01897

Motillon-Toudic C, Walter M, Séguin M, Carrier J-D, Berrouiguet S, Lemey C. Social isolation and suicide risk: literature review and perspectives. Eur Psychiatry. 2022;65(1):e65.

Frankl VE. Man’s search for meaning: an introduction to logotherapy. J Health Soc Behav 63. Perceived Control and Mental Health: A Review. 2022;2:115-32.

Birnbaum GE, Reis HT. Evolved to be connected: the dynamics of attachment and sex over the course of romantic relationships. Curr Opin Psychol. 2019;25:11-5.

Bowlby J. Attachment and loss. Vol. 3. Loss, sadness and depression. New York: Basic Books, 1980.

Kleiman EM, Beaver JK, Seiden AL. Emotion regulation as a predictor of suicide risk: A conceptual review. Behav Res Ther. 2021;145:103846.

Wu D, Yang T, Rockett IR, Yu L, Peng S, Jiang S. Uncertainty stress, social capital, and suicidal ideation among Chinese medical students: findings from a 22-university survey. J Health Psychol. 2021;26(2):214-25.

Murray JD. Social aspects of suicidal behavior and prevention. Int J Ment Health. 1967;9(3-4):89-98.

Meyer IH, Blosnich JR, Choi SK, Harper GW, Russell ST. Suicidal behavior and coming out milestones in three cohorts of sexual minority adults. LGBT Health. 2021;8(5):340-8.

Lewis KS, Kamen C, Mendenhall T, Grandgenett H. Internalized stigma, self-esteem, and depression among sexual minority individuals: A meta-analytic review. J Homosex. 2023;70(1):1-16.

Suen LW, Lunn MR, Katuzny K, Finn S, Duncan L, Sevelius J et al. What sexual and gender minority people want researchers to know about sexual orientation and gender identity questions: A qualitative study. Arch Sex Behav. 2020;49(7):2301-18.

Wei D, Ding, Wang, Xingxing, You, Xueling et al., ... & Hou, Fenyong. Prevalence of depression, anxiety, and suicide among men who have sex with men in China: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2021;29: e136.

Gilbey D, Perry Y, Lin A, Ohan J. Shame, doubt and sadness: A qualitative investigation of the experience of self-stigma in adolescents with diverse sexual orientations. Youth. 2022;3:352-65.

Cipriano A, Cella S, Cotrufo P. Nonsuicidal self-injury: A systematic review. Front Psychol. 2017;8:1946.

Esposito C, Spirito A, Boergers J. Nonsuicidal self-injury and suicide in adolescents. Curr Opin Psychol. 2021;39:99-103.

Grandclerc S, De Labrouhe D, Spodenkiewicz M, Lachal J, Moro MR. Relations between nonsuicidal self-injury and suicidal behavior in adolescence: a systematic review. PLOS ONE. 2016;11(4):e0153760.

Kassing F, Dodd CG, Palmer LE, Hill RM. Comfort expressing emotions and suicide ideation: evidence of indirect effects via perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness. Arch Suicide Res. 2022;26(2):886-95.

Secor MV, Limke-McLean MA, Wright TJ. Friends versus Family: an Examination of Social Support in Sport. J Appl Sport Psychol. 2017;29(3):263-77.

DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2016.1238658.

Estrada RD, Pastor DA, Smith ML, Johnson LB, Switzer GE. The role of religious leaders in mental health care: A qualitative study. J Relig Health. 2019;58(3):873-87.

DOI: 10.1007/s10943-018-0617-6.

Boydell KM. Connecting in the chime framework: A qualitative analysis of the importance of relationships in recovery from mental health problems. J Ment Health. 2023;32(2):153-18.

Golberstein E, Kronenberg C. Mental health economics—social determinants and care-use. Health Econ. 2022;31;Suppl 2:3-5.

DOI: 10.1002/hec.4608, PMID 36114611.

Ribeiro JD, Franklin JC, Fox KR, Bentley KH, Kleiman EM, Chang BP et al. Self-injurious thoughts and behaviors as risk factors for future suicide ideation, attempts, and death: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychol Med. 2020;50(2):1-11.

DOI: 10.1017/S0033291719003263.

Bakhiyi C, Barakat S, Saade S, Tavitian L, Choueiry L, Khansa W et al. Reasons for living, depression, and suicide risk in Lebanese University students. Arch Suicide Res. 2017;21(2):279-92.

Flynn T. Reason for living and the meaning of life: A philosophical and psychological study. Routledge; 2021.

Turner, Jay R, Frankel, Benjamin G, Levin, Daniel M. Social Connectedness, Sense of Purpose, and Suicidal Ideation among Adults: A Path Model. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. 2020;50(4) :868-880.

Gordon KH, Bresin K, Dombeck J, Routledge C, Wonderlich JA, Joiner TE Jr. The importance of close others’ reasons for living in predicting suicidality. J Clin Psychol. 2018;74(7):1158-68.

Ahmed A. Relationships among perceived empowerment, self-esteem, and depression in individuals with spinal cord injury. Rehabil Psychol. 2017;62(3):343-52.

Li Z, Yi X, Zhong M, Li Z, Xiang W, Wu S et al. Psychological distress, social support, coping style, and perceived stress among medical staff and medical students in the early stages of the COVID-19 epidemic in China. Front Psychiatry. 2021; 12:664808.

Keles S, Oppedal B. Social support from friends among unaccompanied young refugees: the role of collectivist values and related self-construals. Eur J Health Psychol. 2022;29(1):50-60.

DOI: 10.1027/2512-8442/a000098.

Sánchez-Teruel D, Robles-Bello MA, Camacho-Conde JA. Self-inflicted injuries in adolescents and young adults: A longitudinal approach. Psicothema. 2020; 32(3):322-8.

Krause N. Feelings of belonging in a congregation: a social–psychological assessment. Ment Health Relig Cult. 2016;19(2):164-77.

de la Vega Sánchez D, Guija JA, Pérez-Moreno P, Kelly SA, Santos M, Oquendo MA et al. Association of religious activity with male suicide deaths. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2020;50(2):449-60.

Abu-Ras W, Gheith R. Muslim American religiosity and suicide prevention. J Relig Health. 2021;60(3):1425-9.

Flores G. Religion in the Philippines: A Culture of Faith. Philippine Primer. Available:https://primer.com.ph/tips- guides/2018/02/05/religion-in-the-philippines-a-culture-of-faith/.

Ellison CG, Fan D. Daily spiritual experiences and psychological well-being among US adults: exploring the roles of race/ethnicity and spirituality. J Relig Health. 2019;58(6):1936-53.

Wasserman D, Rihmer Z, Rujescu D, Sarchiapone M. The European psychiatric association (EPA) guidance on suicide treatment and prevention. Eur Psychiatry. 2019;55:74-86.

Krysinska K, Batterham PJ, Tye M, Shand F, Calear A, Cockayne N et al. Best practice guidelines for the management of suicide attempts among adults. Crisis. 2020;41(S1):S94-S112.

McElroy-Heltzel SE, Van Tongeren DR, Gazaway S, Ordaz A, Davis DE, Hook JN et al. The role of spiritual fortitude and positive religious coping in meaning in life and spiritual well-being following Hurricane Matthew. J Psychol Christianity. 2018; 37(1):17-27.

Pury CLS, Kowalski RM. Grit and gratitude as distinct and interconnected constructs: A test of the construct overlap hypothesis. J Posit Psychol. 2020;15(2):259-69.

Chen LH, Chang HJ, Lin YC. The effect of gratitude on personal growth initiative: A cross-sectional study of college students. J Happiness Stud. 2020;21(1):113-27.

Owen J, Chen LH, Yarnell LM. Gratitude as a mediator between goal striving and well-being: an empirical investigation. Pers Individ Dif. 2021;168:110382.

Camacho de Anda A, Becerra D. Hoping for a better tomorrow: do hope and optimism serve as protective factors against discrimination in latinx immigrants? J Hum Behav Soc Environ. 2022;1-20.