Men on Losing a Male to Suicide: A Gender Analysis

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Abstract

Although male suicide has received research attention, the gendered experiences of men bereaved by male suicide are poorly understood. Addressing this knowledge gap, we share findings drawn from a photovoice study of Canadian-based men who had lost a male friend, partner, or family member to suicide. Two categories depicting the men’s overall account of the suicide were inductively derived: (a) unforeseen suicide and (b) rationalized suicide. The “unforeseen suicides” referred to deaths that occurred without warning wherein participants spoke to tensions between having no idea that the deceased was at risk while reflecting on what they might have done to prevent the suicide. In contrast, “rationalized suicides” detailed an array of preexisting risk factors including mental illness and/or substance overuse to discuss cause–effect scenarios. Commonalities in unforeseen and rationalized suicides are discussed in the overarching theme, “managing emotions” whereby participants distanced themselves, but also drew meaning from the suicide.

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