Narratives of suicide in psychological autopsy: Bringing lay knowledge back in

Mike Gavin, Anne Rogers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Psychological autopsy has been viewed as a valuable methodology for gaining an understanding of the influences and circumstances surrounding suicide. However, such an approach is limited by the primacy and tautological understanding of the attributed mental disorder as an explanatory factor for suicide. Aims: To explore the underlying assumptions of the psychological autopsy method and the nature of the way in which narratives and accounts from individuals are deployed. Results: Narratives are currently used in the main as a means of identifying the presence or absence of psychopathology. Narratives which focus on the lay knowledge of respondents is likely to widen understanding of the nature of accounts of respondents and the events and influences surrounding suicide. Conclusion: A predominately medicalized view of suicide may prevent the adequate consideration of influences other than diagnosis which may have more importance in analytical and practical terms for prevention and policy in the area of suicide. Including narratives based on lay knowledge is likely to add value to the current psychological autopsy method. © Shadowfax Publishing and Taylor & Francis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-144
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Mental Health
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


    • Lay knowledge
    • Narratives
    • Psychological autopsy
    • Sociology
    • Suicide


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