The Many Languages of Suicide – Abstract

I used to sometimes feel invisible when I was deep in my own suicidal despair.  Now, although enjoying a robust “recovery”, I find that my current research into suicide often renders me invisible again. More precisely, the various languages of suicide – in the academic literature, in public health policy documents and in conferences like this one – speak of my experience as some sort of exhibit in a glass jar to be pointed at.  The language of science, objective and rational, struggles to capture the dark mystery of suicide and our understanding of it suffers accordingly. The language of direct, first-hand experience – intimately personal and subjective, sometimes irrational and paradoxical, often poetic and spiritual, and possibly frightening to some – must be included in our discourse to empower others to speak up and to dismantle the ignorance and stigma around suicide.  This paper (and my current research) looks at the language of spirituality to deepen our understanding of the suicidal crisis.