Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies


Communication Studies

First Reader/Committee Chair

Taylor, Julie


Society's conventions of suicide make death by suicide become symbolic annihilation (Gerbner & Signorielli, 1979; Gerbner & Gross, 1976; Tuchman, 1979) by placing a taboo and stigmatization on the practice of suicide. That limits the discourses regarding suicide (DRS), which creates these differences that are normative, subordinate, and excluded discourses of suicide. Public health institutions seek to control DRS and restrict the experiences of suicide. For instance, the World Health Organization’s Reporting for Suicide guidelines contains recommendations on how to report suicide within media that restrict public discourses of suicide (Reporting on Suicide, n.d.-a). In the 2010s, suicide-themed songs also emerged in both mainstream and underground hip-hop. These songs shaped the DRS by illustrating the experiences people have with suicide. In this thesis, I used a critical poststructuralist paradigm to examine the hidden, mediated, distorted power relations that dominant social structures form, and how these structures are disrupted and transformed through power relations. Thus, I critique how public health institutions perpetuate the ideologies surrounding suicide and how hip-hop exposes the lived experiences. Employing thematic discourse analysis (Clarke, 2005; Taylor & Ussher, 2001), I illuminate salient discursive themes within four hip-hop songs from the 2010s that have an explicit theme of suicide.