Amy Davis, PsyD is a 2010 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee

  • Mary Wieneke, Ph.D. (Committee Chair)
  • Ned Farley, Ph.D. (Committee Member)
  • William Roedel, Ph.D. (Committee Member)


suicide, survivorship, lesbians, meaning of attempt

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It is commonly understood that approximately 10 % of the U.S. population is gay, lesbian, or bisexual. It has been well-documented that gay people face a heightened risk of suicide that is different and more severe than heterosexuals. Although it is known that both suicide attempts and completions are disproportionately higher among gay adolescents than heterosexual ones, there is a paucity of research on the phenomenon of suicide survivorship. Because lesbian adolescents in particular have higher rates of depression, drug or alcohol abuse, and suicidality than heterosexuals, there is a demonstrated need for studies which explore the experiences of lesbian women specifically. This dissertation sought to understand the meaning behind the experience of surviving one’s own suicide attempt, both at the time of the attempt, and at least ten years post. Six women who self-identified as lesbians who attempted suicide during adolescence were interviewed, and asked a question designed to evoke an exploration of the meaning of their experience: What is the lived experience of having survived this attempt? As a lesbian? As a woman? Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to uncover distilled meaning and shared themes among participants. Although three main super-ordinate themes, Catalysts, Return Journey, and Meaning of Survival, were determined, within this last were the following results: most of the participants were grateful for their present lives and survival, although none of them had been so initially; they hoped their stories would be helpful to others, and had broken their silence in order to help others; and for many their on-going survival and choice to live was tied to claiming a publicly lesbian identity. Finally, among those who reported both being grateful for their lives and that their attempts had been integrated into the larger mosaic of their lived experiences, the role of motherhood was listed as a salient factor in these, and in their on-going decisions to continue living. The electronic version of this dissertation is at OhioLink ETD Center,