Year: 2004 Source: Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, v.11, no.3, (June 2004), p.305-312 SIEC No: 20070865

Suicide is a serious public health concern in Alberta, with, on average, over 400 Albertans taking their own lives annually. The case for concern is even more pronounced when one considers that for younger Albertans (those aged less than 45 years), suicide is the second leading cause of death. While trends in rates of suicide fluctuate over time, it is important to note that suicide rates for males have been at least three times higher than the corresponding rates for females since the 1950s. Furthermore, these differences have increased so that, by the 1990s the rate for male suicide was four times higher than that of females. In addition, rates are increasing at a faster pace in younger cohorts. Despite the existence of numerous positivistically orientated studies, and the introduction of a range of strategies to help prevent suicide, significant reductions in suicide rates have not been achieved. Similarly, while there is a substantial literature on the issue of suicide in Canada, there remain many gaps in our knowledge. Our understanding of the experiences and the meanings attributed to these experiences that motivate contemporary Albertan males to attempt suicide is far from complete. In order to design interventions to help reduce the suicide rate, whether these are interventions at the preprimary, primary or secondary level of care, it is necessary to gain a more detailed and comprehensive understanding of this highly complex behaviour. Consequently, there is an urgent need to better understand the particular life experiences and the meanings that individuals attach to these experiences. Accordingly, this paper makes the case for the use of hermeneutic, phenomenological investigations, as a means to further elucidate the lived experiences of suicidal Alberta males.