Ethical and political implications of the turn to stories in suicide prevention
THE stories of suicide attempt survivors are gaining broader currency in suicide prevention where they have the potential to provide privileged insights into experiences of suicide, strengthen prevention and intervention measures, and reduce discrimination and stigmatization. Stories of suicide, however, have a double-edged power insofar as their benefits are counterweighted by a number of acknowledged harms. Drawing on the literatures and methods of narrative, and in particular, narrative approaches to bioethics, I contend that suicide prevention organizations make possible yet constrain the creation of personal stories of suicide, shaping the discursive meanings of public stories of suicide while setting limits on which stories are valued, legitimized, and rendered intelligible. Personal stories of suicide serve as important sites of meaning-making, power, and social identity, yet they also reproduce and normalize particular ways of thinking, acting, and communicating that reinforce the institutional logics of suicidology. These have ethical and political force as they help to frame the ways suicide is understood, the ways it is subjectively experienced, and the ways it is responded to.