Is Handwriting Analysis a Valid Tool for the Early Warning and Prevention of Suicide?
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Is Handwriting Analysis a Valid Tool for the Early Warning and Prevention of Suicide?

The startling and painful facts are that, in the U.S.A., based on the latest available statistics: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: 1 person succeeds in committing suicide every 15 minutes, amounting a staggering 34 000 per year, and it is the 11th leading cause of death. Moreover, people ATTEMPT suicide, even right now, at the rate of 60 per hour.

The startling and painful facts are that, in the U.S.A., based on the latest available statistics: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:  ONE person succeeds in committing suicide every 15 minutes, amounting a staggering 34 000 per year, and it is the 11th leading cause of death. Moreover, people ATTEMPT suicide, even right now, at the rate of 60 per hour.

Know ALL the warning signs

  • Talk about suicide – the person may actually threaten to take their life, saying things like “Nothing really matters” or “I wish I was dead”.
  • Be deeply depressed – A feeling of hopelessness, losing any interest in work and withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Showing and uncharacteristic lift in spirits – A sudden change in mood can indicate that the person is relieved because they feel their problems will soon end.
  • Preparation for Death – Make unexpected changes in a Will, and give away personal possessions.
  • Changes in Personality – The person concerned my demonstrate changes in eating, sleeping or sexual habits.

It is VITALLY important to take any, and ALL signs seriously.

SecretiveThe problem though, is valid early detection or recognition, even by seasoned professionals is a serious problem, because there is minimal evidence regarding measurable success across the spectrum. This perspective is reinforced by the fact that, in the medical field, professionals readily admit that any accurate predictive evaluation is highly problematic.

For that reason alone, every means of early detection should be examined with a view to making a diagnostic breakthrough. Therefore, the potential early recognition of a problem shown in a person's handwriting, although somewhat controversial, should not be simply be brushed aside if the suicide “success” rate is to be stemmed WORLDWIDE:

Graphology as a valid tool for suicide watch?

From valuable, controlled scientific studies in France VALID STUDIES it has adequately been demonstrated that the success rate of suicide can be predicted with a reliability of between 73% - 88% when the tests are undertaken by suitably qualified graphologists. Moreover, the French Medical doctors concerned with the studies, contend that, because their studies have yielded such positive results, there is now talk that this will lead to yet more research in this field.

Low self-esteemImportantly, they also contend that graphology was able to differentiate between letters written by people who have ATTEMPTED suicide, from those written by healthy subjects, with an acceptable degree of accuracy – over 80%. The difference was not apparently due to any ideas or content contained in any of the letters.

This is in fact borne out by the fact that a suitably qualified graphologist uses an approach called “Gestalt” (Defined as “a configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts”)

For people in general however, there is a flip side to all this “keeping a watch” because the huge stumbling block is that a the analysis of a person's handwriting cannot be done without their knowledge, as it will violate their right to privacy.

Take ALL the signs seriously

  • If a person has attempted suicide before, they may well try again, and 3 out of 4 suicides give some sort of warning of their intentions to a friend or family member.
  • Give your emotional support

The fact that YOU care is vitally important to a potential suicide, so ask questions and help the person concerned to discuss their feelings. It is a good thing to know, and keep handy, a Toll Free Number – A Suicide Crisis line – so here is one for the U.S.A.: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255) and there is also a web site: MENTAL HEALTH HOTLINES

Worldwide, the scientific approach to Graphology (Handwriting Analysis) has undergone a significant change in the past few years, where it is no longer considered to be an idle curiosity and therefore for amusement as a “party piece”. This is now adequately demonstrated in the following ways: ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS AND DEGREE STATUS  where, alphabetically, in:

Argentina - The Ministry of Education has officially recognized academic studies towards a degree in graphology. Degrees can be obtained in the Emerson University College (Instituto Superior Emerson - Colegio Universitario) and in the Universidad Catolica Argentina Santa Maria, both in Buenos Aires.

France - is the cradle of scientific graphology. The French society “La Société Française de Graphologie (SFDG)” was established already in 1871. It received legal status in 1901, and was acknowledged as “functioning in the Public’s interest” in 1971.

Germany - Graphology (“Handwriting-Psychology”) has been taught in various German universities for 80 years as part of study programs in philosophy, psychology, criminology and medicine.

Italy - Graphology is recognized by the Ministry of Education. In 1996, the governmental ?Office for Universitarian, Scientific and Technological Research? acknowledged graphology studies in universities within the faculties of sociology, psychology, law, and other professional courses. University diploma programs were opened in 1997 as three year courses in the Faculty of Education at L.U.M.S.A. University, Rome and at Universita degli Studi di Urbino ?Carlo BO?. Since 2004, there are also Master's programs in Forensic Graphology, educational and family graphology and in graphological counseling at L.U.M.S.A. University and a Master's program in graphology in Urbino University

Switzerland - In Switzerland graphology enjoys high recognition generally and also by academia, and is referred to as ?Handwriting-Psychology?. In Zurich, graphology is taught towards Bachelor and Masters degrees at the ?Higher-School for Applied Psychology? (Hochschule für Angewandt Psychologie - HAP Zürich). 

U.S.A. - Thanks to the efforts of Rose Matoussek, In December 18, 1989, the United States Department of Labor removed graphology from the category of "Entertainment" in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) since handwriting analysis was utilized by companies for personnel selection, doctors, counselors, attorneys, academic administrators, etc. The current definition is: "GRAPHOLOGIST (profess. & kin.)"

Many legal precedents in American courts of justice can be found, acknowledging graphology as a method for personality assessment: Legal Precedent in the USA  

Images by Courtesy of: Stock.xchng

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Comments (9)

The statistics are indeed startling and so very tragic. Any method of early detection should be embraced, even if only a few people are helped. One death due to suicide is too many. Commendable job on this sensitive subject, Colin. Bravo.

Wow, that is incredible the amount of accuracy- but you are right, it could open the door to privacy issues.

Thanks for your input Sharla & Taylor - MY quest regarding Graphology (Handwriting Analysis) is to highlight the fact that it is NOT just some sort of parlor game for amusement, and, correctly used can have a powerful impact on the understanding, measuring and possible correcting of difficult-to-understand human behavior - without all the hype.

Truly interesting article Colin. Hand writing for personality types is nothing new but if it can help detect a person thats suicidal then it has to be a good thing. I am in two minds about it being a breach of privacy under these circumstances. I think that the privacy issue would only come into play if employers were using the analysis the pick employees. Anything to help people suffering has to be a positive step. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated. As regards the employee selection process, we have done a considerable amount of work in that arena. It was the basis of an MBA dissertation by a colleague of mine, and also:" Langer, G. (1993). Graphology in Personality Assessment: A Reliability and Validity Study. Ph. D. Dissertation, The Faculty of The Gordon F.Derner Insitutute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY." demonstrated that HW Analysis is indeed a valid tool for Personnel Assessment. In France, it is standard practice when applying for a job. I also use it, with considerable success, in my coaching practice. My fear is that a great deal of ignorance and bias is excluding a lot of people from reaping it's many benefits. I could go on........

Interesting facts about graphology. This will be a helpful tool in screening employees.

Fascinating theory, great Factoid, I enjoyed it!

Great information and research. Good job with this.

Thanks for your positive input - much more to come with my passion - HW analysis :-)

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