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Understanding suicide: Conversations with the bereaved

Jacob, Nina 2008. Understanding suicide: Conversations with the bereaved. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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This thesis presents a sociological inquiry into the meanings that families bereaved by suicide attach to the suicide of a young man. Through in-depth interviews and an email based focus group, this study explores families' attempts to understand how and why their loved one chose to end his life. Whilst interviews and focus group discussions were centred on the life and death of the young man, it became clear that the narratives of the bereaved were as much tales of themselves as they were tales of the deceased. The narratives of the life and death of the young man are only ever reconstructions from the relative's perspective. Therefore the research developed a broadly dual focus. It begins by exploring the families' constructions of the young man's life and death before moving on to look the experiences of the bereaved and their (reconstructions of themselves and their families. A social constructionist approach was adopted in order to explore the most significant discourses in helping families make sense of their loved one's death. This thesis shows how the discourse of mechcal-psychiatry was especially salient in their attempts to reach an understanding of their young man's suicide. In particular, families either resisted, or appealed to its dominant construction of suicide as showing signs of mental illness. In addition, the meanings and understandings attached to the young man's death were highly sophisticated attempts to negotiate blame to establish who was responsible for their loved one's death. Importantly whether families appealed to or resisted the dominant medical-psychiatric discourse - the salient point in all the families' constructions was the need to place responsibility outside the family. Moreover, suicide is a devastating death, often leaving families feeling isolated and stigmatised. As such, this thesis also chronicles the families' experiences of being bereaved by suicide their attempts to manage such a profound disruption in their own lives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
ISBN: 9781303185847
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:02

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