Constructing and Expanding Suicide Narratives From Gay Men

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Abstract

In this study, we document life stories of gay men who attempted suicide as adults. Our goal is to expand the collection of narratives used to understand this persistent health inequity. We interviewed seven adult gay men, each of whom had attempted suicide two to four times, and identified five narratives. Pride narratives resist any connection between sexuality and suicide. Trauma-and-stress narratives enable coping through acknowledgment of sexual stigma as a fundamental trauma and cause of subsequent stress and suicidal thoughts. Memorial narratives prevent suicide by maintaining a strong sense of “permanent” identity. Outing narratives demand that the listener confronts the legacy of unjust practices of homosexual surveillance and “outing,” which historically resulted in gay suicides. Finally, postgay narratives warn of the risk of suicide among older generations of gay men who feel erased from the goals of modern gay movements. Sexual identity concealment or invisibility featured prominently in all five narratives.

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