Critical Suicide Studies: Decolonial and Participatory Creative Approaches

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760). This special issue belongs to the section "Community and Urban Sociology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 September 2024 | Viewed by 1213

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
School of Social Sciences, Australian Human Rights Institute, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney 2031, Australia
Interests: social health; arts-health research; participatory research; trauma-informed approaches; gender-sensitive research
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The sociocultural aspects of suicide occupy a relatively small space in the literature on this topic, whereas biomedical and mental health framings dominate the discipline of suicidology. Despite the growing recognition that “Eurocentric configurations” (Tisha X and marcela polanco, 2021) and western-centric notions of suicidality reflect colonial ideologies, the realms of knowledge grounded in Indigenous and majority-world expertise are not always validated to the same degree in suicide research, and by extension, in practical contexts. Critical suicide studies, a discipline that expands and enhances conventional biomedical approaches by engaging with lived experiences, power relations, social justice, and the histories that frame knowledge on suicidality have shifted the debate, but they require more nuanced perspectives if they are to continue to disrupt normative approaches. To reimagine how scholars, advocates, and practitioners think about and address suicidality, new scholarly spaces are needed to explore this topic from a critical, sociocultural angle.

Participatory creative methods and practices represent culturally safe and trauma-informed approaches to ethical research on suicidality, with much potential to disrupt the colonial underpinnings of the current knowledge. The impact of using participatory creative approaches such as filmmaking, immersive reality, or poetry, rather than positivist, standardized tools in research on self-harm, trauma, and suicidality, has been documented extensively (e.g., Lynn Froggett and Jill Bennett, 2023).

This Special Issue focusses on critical suicide studies, and more specifically, a sociocultural lens through which to examine and understand suicide using participatory creative methods. It aims to answer the following questions at the core of decolonizing suicidology:

  • How does historical or intergenerational trauma from colonization, enslavement, confinement, abuse, displacement, detention, incarceration, torture, and genocide shape experiences of suicide?
  • What are the contextual specificities and ethical considerations of participatory creative approaches in critical suicide studies?
  • What is being silenced in critical suicide studies from a decolonial perspective?
  • What can we do differently to achieve what Kristen Cardon (2021) calls “suicide justice”, which demands more accountability between settler suicide workers and the people and communities they work with?

This Special Issue aims to advance the debates on this topic in order to produce more precise scholarly work on critical suicide studies based on First Nations knowledge and a majority-world praxis. The focus on participatory creative models will expand the methodological literature and point to their potential as ethical methods within suicidology. Scholars with lived experiences of suicide (i.e., personal experiences of suicidal thoughts or attempts, caring for suicidal persons, or being bereaved or affected by suicide in any way) are encouraged to submit.

Please submit your proposals and any questions to Dr. Caroline Lenette <[email protected]> by 16 February 2024. Notification of acceptance will be provided by 1 March 2024. Final papers are due on 1 September 2024 for peer review.

Proposals should be one page in length and include a title, an abstract explaining its relevance to the Special Issue topic, a description of the population, and the methods used (if applicable). Also include author names and affiliations.

Dr. Caroline Lenette
Guest Editor

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  • critical suicide studies
  • decolonizing suicidology
  • sociocultural perspectives
  • First Nations knowledge
  • majority-world expertise
  • creative methods
  • participatory research
  • lived experience of suicide
  • suicide justice

Published Papers (1 paper)

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20 pages, 297 KiB  
Making Sense of Critical Suicide Studies: Metaphors, Tensions, and Futurities
by Luiza Cesar Riani Costa and Jennifer White
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(4), 183; - 22 Mar 2024
Viewed by 822
Critical suicide studies is a relatively new area of research, practice, and activism, which we believe can offer creative new vantage points with which to ‘think’ suicide into the future. We present findings from a qualitative research study undertaken to understand how critical [...] Read more.
Critical suicide studies is a relatively new area of research, practice, and activism, which we believe can offer creative new vantage points with which to ‘think’ suicide into the future. We present findings from a qualitative research study undertaken to understand how critical suicide studies is being conceptualized by those who draw from this orientation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine scholars, practitioners, activists, and/or those with lived and living experience of suicidality. To analyze the data, we used reflexive thematic analysis and drew on a social constructionist orientation. We discovered that metaphors were an important way of conceptualizing and reflecting upon critical suicide studies. Four themes were generated: critical suicide studies is a site of respite and fortification; critical suicide studies is a felt experience; critical suicide studies is a desire line; critical suicide studies is yearning. We contend that the dominant language available to describe suicide and suicide prevention might not be adequate for expressing the complexities and contradictions of suicide prevention practice or suicide’s ultimate unknowability. We call for more diverse, inclusive, and expansive frameworks for understanding and responding to suicide and show the potential of joining other critical scholars and social movements to build a more just, caring, and inclusive world. Full article
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