My research explores how cultural and social ideas of masculinity and men's emotional lives, impact men's wellbeing, particularly in relation to male suicide - the biggest killer of men under 45. Suicide is an act born of emotional pain that seeks to terminate the existence of self in the world. I wanted to qualitatively explore why so many men in 21st century Britain are experiencing such levels of emotional distress, that they are choosing to terminate their selfhood. Previous to this Msc I've worked for the last 12 years in fundraising and communication roles within the charity sector including international conflict resolution and global disability rights organisations.
The Plight Of Man: Masculinity, Emotions And Suicide In 21st Century Britain.
Supervisor: Sandra Jovchelovitch
Every week 84 men are statistically recorded as completing suicide in Britain1. Despite suicide being the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK2 the social conversation around this public health crisis remains dangerously muted. The minimal literature that exists, suggests ideas of masculinity and emotional illiteracy compound the isolation of men in crisis. This research uses a social representations framework to explore these ideas further and seeks to understand how ideas of masculinity and men’s emotional lives are constructed and understood by those at the epicentre of male suicide. A qualitative research design using semi-structured interviews was used to provide in-depth understandings and experiences of 10 men who have attempted suicide; 2 men who are planning their suicide; 3 men who experience ongoing suicidal ideation, and 17 people bereaved by male suicide (N=32). A thematic analysis was used to explore their understandings and derive common patterns. Representations expressed by participants suggest that the pressures imbued in hegemonic ideas of masculinity and their constraining influence on male identities; the cultural restricting and diminishing of men’s emotional lives, and the social demonization of suicidal feelings, all compound the isolation and despair of men in crisis. New cultural stories about masculinity, emotions and suicidal feeling were described by participants as vital in order to protect more men from suicidal feeling, behaviour, attempts and completion.