Discursive Strategies and Rhetorical Moves in Selected Suicide Notes from Nigeria


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




Suicide notes are crucial pieces of evidence used by police in the investigation of death and in courts to confirm the cause of death, whether it is a true suicide or a homicide accompanied by a fake note. Yet, linguistic analyses of suicide notes in Africa and Nigeria, in particular, are sparse. Drawing on Swales (1990) rhetorical move framework and computational linguistics, this work analyses a large body of suicide notes collected from Northeast Nigeria. The project seeks to examine the rhetorical moves, discursive strategies, and gender linguistic variables that characterized the selected African suicide notes. The findings from this project hope to provide an interesting linguistic and African perspective about suicide notes free of the psychological and Euro-American presuppositions. It will also create an awareness of how scholars of language might work together with non-language specialists to better understand suicide notes.