Associate Professor of Public Mental Health - University of Exeter, United Kingdom
A Micro-sociology of Suicide: Family and Social Network Perspectives on Suicide and its Prevention
Christabel Owens, MA, PhD, is Associate Professor of Public Mental Health at the University of Exeter in the UK, where she leads a programme of research into suicide and self-harming behaviour. Read more at http://medicine.exeter.ac.uk/people/profile/index.php?web_id=Christabel_Owens#0hpF4PaD3aRcxi7d.99
During my time at the Brocher Foundation I plan to start writing a book, provisionally entitled, A Micro-sociology of Suicide: Family and Social Network Perspectives on Suicide and its Prevention. For more than a decade, I have been conducting in-depth qualitative research with family members and friends of those who have died by suicide, seeking to understand this complex social phenomenon from their point of view. Working outside the dominant medical paradigm, I have sought to uncover the meanings that significant others attach to the act of suicide, their beliefs about its aetiology, and the possibilities for and barriers to prevention that may have existed within families and immediate social networks. My aim has been to develop an approach to community-based suicide prevention that takes account of the micro-social contexts in which suicidal crises unfold and that strengthens the capacity of lay people (as opposed to health professionals) to recognise and respond effectively to a crisis.
I have already published a number of highly regarded academic papers from this body of work. A residency at the Brocher Foundation will allow me to bring it all together in a book, presenting for the first time a comprehensive picture with a strong theoretical underpinning and clear implications for practice.