Our narratives are radical: rethinking suicide care through lived experience
LE3 .A278 2019
Bachelor of Arts
This thesis qualitatively explores how suicidal people experience and respond to contemporary medicalized approaches to suicide care through examination and analysis of lived experience. Contemporary suicide care is based upon the definition of suicide as a medical problem; as a result, dominant psy discourse and practice addressing suicide has been driven by neuroscientific innovation and clinical expertise rather than the testimony of individuals with lived experiences of suicidality, a population whose perspectives are largely dismissed and discredited due to sanist prejudice and discrimination. Seeking to centre suicidal perspectives in its investigation of suicide care, this thesis presents an autoethnographic account by the author of her own suicide-related hospitalization and qualitatively examines seven interviews with suicide attempt survivors drawn from the Live Through This narrative catalogue to explore the ways in which suicidal people navigate complex relationships with medicalized interventions for suicidality. The LTT survivors reflect that these interventions may provide some benefit, but also often cause harm and emotional trauma to people in crisis. The analysis also explores the tension between conceptualizations of suicidality as a symptom of mental illness versus a response to challenging life circumstances. Outside of the medical model and clinical intervention, the survivors’ narratives emphasize the importance of suicide care that does not focus narrowly on symptomology and psychopathology but instead provides genuine connection and presence in the midst of struggle. Insights drawn from these first-hand accounts of suicidal experiences indicate a need to rethink contemporary approaches to suicide care and shift towards more holistic forms of support for people in crisis
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