Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-20-2019


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counselor Education and Supervision (ExCES)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Lisa Lopez Levers

Committee Member

Matthew Joseph

Committee Member

Carol Parke


suicide, midlife, qualitative, unobstrustive, bioecological, interpersonal


Suicide has increased over the past decade among midlife adults in the United States. It is the fourth leading cause of death among persons aged 35–54 years and the eighth leading cause of death among persons aged 55–64 years. The primary purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study is to examine, describe, and understand the lived experiences of midlife adults who have contemplated suicide and who have sought assistance and support from their peers via an online forum for those with an interest in and/or history of suicidality. Bronfenbrenner’s (1977) bioecological model, Joiner’s (2005) interpersonal theory of suicide, and van Manen’s (1990) phenomenological method provide lenses through which these experiences may be understood. The four categories that emerged from the data include the following: biopsychosocial considerations, specifically physical decline and economic risk; mental health concerns stemming from psychiatric illness; connectivity with others; and a desire to end pain. The findings suggest that experiencing suicidality as a midlife adult is a largely isolating experience and that online forums may provide a respite from loneliness and disconnection. This inquiry identifies relevant implications for counselor education and counseling practice as well as offering suggestions for future research.