Study Seeks Survivors of Suicide Loss to Annotate Suicide Notes

For years, researchers were afraid to approach survivors of suicide loss. Many were afraid they might say something to upset the survivors while the survivors, standing on the other side of the divide, wanted to talk to the researchers. They wanted to offer what they could about their loved ones that might help other families avoid having to cope with the pain of the suicide loss of a loved one.


Few studies today involve survivors of suicide loss and all of these are about coping with suicide grief (which are obviously very important). Little effort has been taken to include survivors to help prevent suicide until now. The study below is the first of its kind using survivors of suicide loss to annotate (tag emotions) in suicide notes. Please read the information below and if you believe you can help, I encourage you to email me and take part. The more survivors who help, the more lives that can be potentially saved in the future.


The Study:

A study reviewing the emotions in suicide notes funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, is seeking people who are survivors of suicide loss to help identify the emotions in the notes. 


Once all the emotions are identified, a computer can use your work to learn to find those emotions in other text. With this research and others we are doing, we hope to find new ways to determine if someone might attempt or die by suicide. Each person will review 50 notes (not all at one time).


If you have lost a loved one to suicide and believe you can review at least 50 suicide notes, please email Michelle Linn-Gust. In your email, you must include information about your loved one (relationship to you, how long ago since the suicide) and if you have a mental illness.


Thank you for your help. The outcomes of this study would not be possible without help from survivors of suicide loss.


Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D., is an international author and speaker about finding hope after loss and change. She is the author of several books including Rocky Roads: The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief and Ginger's Gift: Hope and Healing Through Dog Companionship. Her first book, based on the suicide of her younger sister Denise, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Si..., inspired siblings around the world in their survival after a loved one’s suicide. She is the President of the American Association of Suicidology and lives in Albuquerque, N.M. Read more about Michelle at

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