International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

Perspectives on Future Directions at the Intersection of Suicide and Meaning Research

Frances Grace Hart, B.A.

McLean Hospital, Belmont MA


Despite the rich history of philosophical connections between meaninglessness and suicide, popular psychological theories of suicide have not centered meaninglessness as a key feature of suicidal risk. With suicide being a leading cause of death globally, and the United States reporting its highest rate of deaths by suicide ever recorded in 2022, it is clear that something critical is missing in current understandings of suicide which impedes clinical intervention. The present article briefly reviews popular theories of suicide, what connections have been made between their understandings of suicidal phenomena and meaninglessness, and provides two possible explanations for why meaninglessness has not featured more prominently in theories of suicide. The present work concludes by noting the potential of theory formalization to remedy some of the discussed challenges and expedite progress in this area.

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