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Title: Self-harm and suicide websites : a discourse analysis of the accounts of website users
Author: Baker, D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2698 7974
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2006
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Our current understanding of self-harm and suicide websites is limited and few studies have attempted to explore this phenomenon. Despite this lack of knowledge, they have been heavily criticised in both the clinical literature and the wider media. They have been accused of being 'pro-suicide' and 'antipsychiatry' and some have argued that they 'encourage' suicide and should be banned. This study sets out to explore the perspective of people who use these websites. It is based on the transcripts of interviews with ten people, who were recruited directly from such sites and interviewed via e-mail. Discourse analysis indicated that the participants constructed self-harm and suicide as complex, multifaceted phenomena. The former was considered as principally a way of coping with painful and distressing experiences. The latter was described as an informed choice and a right. These constructions were used to contest the views of these behaviours that were deemed to be prevalent in wider society, namely that self-harm was a form of attention seeking and suicide was the product of mental illness. Participants drew on discourses of 'empathetic understanding', 'friendship', 'community' and 'recovery', when talking about self-harm and suicide websites. These constructed the sites as friendly, supportive communities, which play an important part in the recovery process. One possible function of the discourses is that they give website users access to positive and socially valued identities. They construct the sites as an alternative way of coping with life's difficulties; an alternative both to self-harm and to conventional medical and psychiatric services. The discourses also resist the dominant view of self-harm and suicide websites in the professional literature and the wider media. The latter offer negative constructions, which may serve to protect the status of those professions and to defend them against the idea that their interventions for self-harm and suicide are, for some at least, aversive and ineffective.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available