With encouragement from the World Health Organisation, national suicide prevention policies have come to be regarded as an essential component of the global effort to reduce suicide. However, despite their global significance, the construction, conceptualisation and proposed provisions offered in suicide prevention policies have, to date, been under researched; this study aims to address this gap.
we critically analysed eight contemporary UK suicide prevention policy documents in use in all four nations of the UK between 2009 and 2019, using Bacchi and Goodwin’s post-structural critical policy analysis.
The authors argue that across this sample of suicide prevention policies, suicide is constructed as self-inflicted, deliberate and death-intentioned. Consequently, these supposedly neutral definitions of suicide have some significant and problematic effects, often individualising, pathologising and depoliticising suicide in ways that dislocate suicides from the emotional worlds in which they occur. Accordingly, although suicide prevention policies have the potential to think beyond the boundaries of clinical practice, and consider suicide prevention more holistically, the policies in this sample take a relatively narrow focus, often reducing suicide to a single momentary act and centring death prevention at the expense of considering ways to make individual lives more liveable.
UK suicide prevention policies have not been subject to critical analysis; to the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study represents the first attempt to examine the way in which suicide is constructed in UK suicide prevention policy documents.
With thanks to the Leverhulme Trust for funding this research and the editors and anonymous reviewers of this article for their helpful comments. This project is funded by a Leverhulme Trust Project Grant (RPG-2020–187).
Marzetti, H., Oaten, A., Chandler, A. and Jordan, A. (2022), "Self-inflicted. Deliberate. Death-intentioned. A critical policy analysis of UK suicide prevention policies 2009-2019", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 4-14. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-09-2021-0113
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