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Gay men and suicidality : an exploration of the significant biographical experiences fore-grounded during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood of some gay men who have engaged in suicidality

By Susan Lindsay McAndrew


International epidemiological studies note that gay men are 4 times more likely to report a serious suicide attempt than their heterosexual counterparts. Data on completed suicides, usually derived from mortality statistics, misrepresent the rate of suicides amongst homosexual populations. However, an increasing number of studies comparing representative samples of gay, lesbian and bisexual youths with heterosexual controls, report increased rates of mental health problems and subsequent suicide among the homosexual population. Whilst current healthcare policy in England is concerned with suicides among young people, the importance of research findings relating to gay people and their mental health needs are often not acknowledged. Additionally, addressing the problem through a public health agenda, the juxtaposition of trying to reduce the rate of suicide among young gay men in a social climate of heterosexism often compounds the negative mental health consequences for this group of people. This thesis explores possible psychosocial experiences that might have contributed to the suicidality of four gay men. A qualitative approach, using single case studies, was used to gain an in-depth understanding of the individual's experience. This methodology was psychoanalytically informed, and used free association narrative interviewing as a means of data collection. Initial data analysis involved interpretation of the Gestalt of each of the case studies. Subsequent analysis explored the shared experiences that are to be found in each of the individual narratives. Thematically, these are described as 'knowing and not knowing', 'the centrality of the father-son relationship' 'the loneliness of 'outsiderness', 'leading a double life' and 'crime and punishment'. The exploration of the significance of the life, experiences these themes illustrated revealed why some gay men might not only experience long term mental health problems but also engage in suicidality. Individually and collectively the analyses provide important insights for health professionals becoming more attuned to specific aspects of a gay man's story and thus, as a consequence, providing sensitive mental health care, at a primary, secondary and tertiary level, to those who have a gay sexual orientation

Publisher: Institute of Psychological Sciences (Leeds)
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:342

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