How often do you think about death? If you think about death and dying more than a regular person, you might be suffering from "existential isolation," according to a new study.
A group of researchers from the University of Arizona conducted a study on "death thought accessibility" and published their findings in the Journal of Research in Personality.
"Existentially isolated individuals do not feel that their views of the world are shared by others. Thus, they do not get much social validation of their worldviews. Terror management research has shown that strong faith in one's worldview protects people from their concerns about mortality. When people's worldviews are weak or threatened, death-related thought becomes more accessible," the study says.
The researchers provided a questionnaire to hundreds of people, divided in two groups, to find if individuals who feel isolated, despite interacting with other people on social media, have increased death-related thoughts. This loneliness veers people towards thoughts of death and dying.
The researchers conducted the study without a bias towards people obsessed with death, for example, viewers of the TV show "The Walking Dead". Rather, they concentrated on people having death-related thoughts under ordinary circumstances.
To determine social isolation, they asked the participants whether they thought that their worldview was different than others. One of the researchers then determined the level of isolation they had by setting up simple measures such as fill in the blanks for DE_ _. (Dead, Deep, Dens). It determined the propensity.
The research could help determine and treat the causes of suicide, and more importantly suicide-murders which occur in many gun crime cases in the US.
If you or someone you know suffers from death anxiety, it is always advisable to consult a professional therapist. You can also dial a suicide prevention helpline such as:
Samaritans – 116 123
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – 0800 5858
Papyrus – 0800 068 4141
Childline – 0800 1111