The paradox of promoting help-seeking: A critical analysis of risk, rurality and youth suicide
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Drawing upon insights from the governmentality literature and risk theory this article examines the implications of the rise of particular rationalities of suicide risk for professional help giving-seeking relations with young people. It examines the discourses of professionals, young people and adults who participated in a three year qualitative research project focused on youth suicide prevention within a rural Australian community. The conduct of helping professionals and young people themselves is shaped by policy discourses that emphasis the calculation and management of suicide in terms of 'clinical risk' (Weir, 1996). However, this way of constructing risk generates contradictions and paradoxes for both professionals and young people with respect to the risks associated with the experience of seeking-giving help. Professionals identified issues of empathic failure and the emotional distance that risk discourses create. Young people mobilised a discourse of risk affect that emphasised the dynamics of shame and fears about confidentiality. The reliance on psy-experts to manage individual risk also raises the issue of community members and families losing confidence in dealing with young peoples' everyday emotional dilemmas. The issue of how professionals are implicated in the government of young people's emotional lives (and deaths) creates a pressing need for further critical debate about the effects of dominant rationalities of mental health risk.
The International Journal Critical Psychology
Copyright 2005 Palgrave Macmillan. This is the author's post-peer-review version of an article published in The International Journal Critical Psychology. The definitive publisher-authenticated version The International Journal Critical Psychology, Vol. 14, pp. 31-51 is available online at: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/sub/index.html