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Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

Young people’s gendered interpretations of suicide and attempted suicide

Jonathan Scourfield*, Nina Jacob, Nina Smalley, Lindsay Prior§ and Katy Greenland¶

*Senior Lecturer, PhD Student, ¶Lecturer, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Cardiff, Freelance Researcher, and

§Professor of Sociology, Queen’s University, Belfast, UK

Child and Family Social Work 2007, 12, pp 248–257

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to uncover gendered interpretations of various kinds

of suicidal behaviour. Its empirical basis is focus group discussions

with a range of young people, including users of social work services.

In support of Canetto’s research, the authors found some of the young

people to be associating ‘successful’ suicides with masculinity and

‘failed’ suicide attempts with femininity. These feminized suicide

attempts were subject to some fairly pejorative interpretations, such

as being motivated by revenge or manipulation. There was no particular

pattern of viewpoints in terms of the sex of respondents. The

implications of these findings for social work are discussed.

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