Perceptions of Intentional vs. Non-Intentional DeathPublic
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This study aimed to examine emotional and physiological reactions to death and suicide, and to investigate whether the type of language (direct language vs. indirect/euphemistic language) used to convey news of such events influences those reactions. Dependent measures included participants’ death anxiety, mental health attitudes, perceptions of the deceased, subjective stress and anxiety, and objective heart rate change. Results indicate that the deceased was viewed more negatively when their death was conveyed using direct language and that direct language leads to greater immediate anxiety and death anxiety. This suggests that the use of euphemisms may indeed shield the recipient from emotional distress. Findings also suggest that the public may recognize the complexity of suicide, as participants did not explicitly display stigmatizing attitudes to the degree expected. It seems that we are progressing towards a space where we can have open discussions about suicide.
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