Structuring Roles and Gender Identities: Within Families Explaining Suicidal Behavior in South India

Lasrado, R.A. et al., (2016) Crisis.  DOI: 10.1027/0227-5910/a000379.

Abstract. Background: This paper examines the social structures, culture, gendered roles, and their implications for suicidal behavior in South India. Exploring the cultural process within the structures of family and society to understand suicide and attempted suicide from the perspectives of survivors, mental health professionals, and traditional healers has not been achieved in the existing suicide-related research studies conducted in India to date. Aims: This study aimed to explore the cultural implications of attempted suicide by examining the survivors’ life stories, their perceptions, and service providers’ interpretations of problem situation. Method: A qualitative design was used drawing on constant comparison method and thematic analysis. The analysis was underpinned by the theoretical concepts of Bourdieu’s work. In-depth interviews were conducted with 15 survivors of attempted suicide, eight mental health professionals, and eight traditional healers from Southern India. Results: The study found interactions among visible and invisible fields such as faith, power, control, culture, family, religion, and social systems to have strengthened the disparities in gender and role structures within families and societies and to have impacted survivors’ dispositions to situations. Conclusion: The role of culture in causing suicide and attempted suicide is explained by unraveling the negative impact of interacting cultural and structural mechanisms.

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