Wasted lives: The social dynamics of shame and youth suicide
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Youth suicide is a specific gesture of waste, a throwing away of the gift, and thus it embodies a powerful statement about young people's refusal to live. In this article I suggest that it is a refusal to engage with, and be sustained by, the particular economies of value, morality and meaning that govern identity within contemporary cultural life. From a post-structuralist perspective the metaphors through which suicide comes to be known are examined via indepth interviews conducted with young people ( n = 41) as part of a larger study also involving adults/professionals ( n = 40) within urban and regional communities. Shame figures predominantly in young people's accounts of suicidal experiences and the everyday social relations that govern the expression of emotion. In contrast to the positivist bent of much suicide research and policy, this article argues for the necessity of understanding the social dynamics of shame in relation to the forces of affect that constitute the emergent subjectivities of young people.
Journal of Sociology
© 2003 SAGE Publications. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.