Shannon Wiltsey Stirman and James W. Pennebaker, "Word Use in the Poetry of Suicidal and Nonsuicidal Poets," Psychosomatic Medicine 63: 517-522


Suggested by Jilly Dybka




A total of 158 poems by poets who committed suicide were analyzed for differences in language between early (written within 2-3 years of the poet's first recorded poem), middle (written 2-5 years halfway between their earliest and final poems), and late (written within 1 year of suicide) poems....

In general, the results indicate that certain features of poetry may be associated with suicide. Most intriuging was the combined linguistic evidence to support a social integration approach. That is, the suicide group's poetry contained more first-person singular self-references throughout their careers.

The suicide group used a significantly higher percentage of sexual words throughout all phases of their careers.