Suicide and social justice: discourse, politics and experience

Book chapter


Marsh, I. 2019. Suicide and social justice: discourse, politics and experience. in: Suicide and Social Justice: New Perspectives on the Politics of Suicide and Suicide Prevention New York; London Routledge. pp. 15-31
AuthorsMarsh, I.
Abstract

Suicide is usually described and framed as primarily a question of individual mental health, with wider economic, social, historical and political contexts relatively under-examined. However, more recently work explicitly linking suicide to issues of injustice, inequality, exclusion and oppression has emerged – constituting what could be called a political or social justice approach to suicide. In this chapter, I analyse some of the different ways in which the relationship between social injustice and suicide is formulated, the assumptions underlying such accounts, and what possibilities for thought and action are opened up through the discursive construction of suicide as a question of social justice.

The chapter also examines the ways in which traditional bio-medical and psychological approaches to suicide are conceptualised within social justice discourse – a yet-to-be settled question is the extent to which the relationship between existing dominant “psy” approaches and emerging social justice formulations of the issue could be said to be complementary or necessarily in opposition. I argue here that the ontological commitments of each can vary markedly, and that social justice approaches to suicide can open up new ways of understanding and responding to suicide perhaps only if certain assumptions embedded in mainstream suicidological thought and practice – particularly those pertaining to notions of personhood and agency – are called into question. Drawing on poststructuralist theory, I endeavour to show how theoretical accounts which explore the relationship between language, power, oppression and experience can cast light on how suicidal subjects are formed over time within particular social and political environments. Historically, suicidology has only rarely engaged with the question of how experiences of inequality and injustice contribute to suicide, but emerging social justice approaches offer some hope that this oversight is now being redressed.

Keywordssuicide; suicide prevention
Page range15-31
Year2019
Book titleSuicide and Social Justice: New Perspectives on the Politics of Suicide and Suicide Prevention
Book authorsButton, M. E. and Marsh, I.
PublisherRoutledge
Output statusIn press
Place of publicationNew York; London
Edition1st
ISBN9781138601840
Publication dates
Print25 Nov 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Nov 2019
Related URLhttps://www.routledge.com/
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