Date of Award

August 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Erin Parcell

Committee Members

Erin Ruppel, Lisa Bradford


Communication, Depression, Mental Health, Social Support, Suicidal Memes, Theory of Motivated Information Management


Social media sites are increasingly where individuals seek and share information on a range of topics. The focus of this thesis is on suicidal memes and how individuals interpret them. Suicidal memes are memes that suggest suicide through either text or visual images. No research has investigated interpretations of suicidal memes to date as well as why individuals post them. It is important to study such issues as the interpretations of these memes can mean the difference between depressed individuals, for example, receiving the help they need or those same individuals alienating themselves from their loved ones. Informed by the theory of motivated information management, this study aimed to determine the variance and likelihood of social support provision after seeing a depressed loved one has shared a suicidal meme. Through a four-group experimental design consisting of 161 participants, results indicated viewing a suicidal meme shared by a loved one did not significantly change the amount or type of anticipated support participants might provide.