Suicide is political: both individual acts of suicide, and suicide rates, are partly influenced by political and social contexts, policies, and discourses. While it is important to understand individual psychology in relation to suicide, it is equally vital to examine how policy regimes impact on the lives and deaths of citizens. For example, activists and scholars have suggested that recent austerity policies in the UK have led to increased suicide within marginalised groups (recipients of welfare benefits). The political nature of suicide is sometimes recognised in academic studies, however, most research concerning suicide tends to frame the practice as exclusively about mental ill-health, and as such is conducted from psychological or psychiatric perspectives. There is an increasing and pressing acknowledgement that different forms of knowledge about suicide are needed, along with more interdisciplinary ways of approaching its study. Despite this acknowledgement, research exploring suicide from within sociology and political studies is still limited, and there remains a lack of qualitative and interdisciplinary knowledge in this field.
Suicide in/as Politics is an interdisciplinary project, situated between sociology and political studies, that will:
- use qualitative methods to investigate in depth the ways that suicide is constructed and employed in formal political discourse and policy documents.
- use arts-based, qualitative inquiry to explore how diverse community members respond to and make sense of political meanings and uses of suicide.
Funded by a Leverhulme Trust Project Grant, Suicide in/as Politics is led by Amy Chandler (University of Edinburgh) and Ana Jordan (University of Lincoln). Hazel Marzetti (Edinburgh) and Alex Oaten (Lincoln) are Research Associates on the project.