Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

William G. Kirk

Thesis Committee Member

William T. Bailey


The purpose of this study was to determine whether the general functioning of a family is related to attitudes regarding suicide. Past research has examined the impact of family functioning on suicide attitudes and found that the relationship between families and children are different in families of suicidal children than in families who have nonsuicidal children. This study combined three variables of suicide acceptance, suicide normality, and perceptions of family functioning in the hopes of gaining more information to assess risk of harm to self in adolescents. The participants were 94 students from Introductory Psychology classes at Eastern Illinois University. Three questionnaires were administered: the Family Assessment Device, the normality scale from the Suicide Opinion Questionnaire, and the Suicide Acceptability Scale. Questions regarding demographic information including exposure to suicide and religiosity were also included. A majority of the participants knew someone who had attempted and completed suicide. Students, in general, did not consider suicide as normal or acceptable behavior, however, if participants knew a close friend or family member who attempted or committed suicide they were more likely to consider the suicide more normal than if they knew an acquaintance or no one had committed or attempted suicide. This finding may illustrate the adjustment process for the survivor. Students who indicated they were more likely during their life to commit suicide were more accepting of suicide. In order to feel normal, suicidal adolescents seem to accept their suicidal thoughts and feelings as normal. Furthermore, males were more accepting of suicide than females which may be the result of man's more aggressive nature. Religiosity and family factors were correlated negatively with suicide acceptance and normality. Intense religious beliefs appear to produce negative attitudes towards suicide, perhaps because the consequences for taking your own life in most traditional religions is severe. Family factors, such as married parents and siblings may also prove to be a buffer against suicide. The intact family may serve as a support system for the adolescent. Previous suicidal intent, exposure to suicide, religiosity, sex, and family factors appear to have an influence over who is at greater risk for suicidal behavior. It may be interesting for future research to determine which combination of these factors are deadlier than others in order to decrease the risk of suicidal behavior in adolescents.