Self-inflicted. Deliberate. Death-intentioned: A critical policy analysis of UK Suicide Prevention Policies 2009-2019

Hazel Marzetti*, Alex Oaten, Amy Chandler, Ana Jordan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Purpose: With encouragement from the World Health Organisation, national suicide prevention policies have come to be regarded as an essential component of the global effort to reduce suicide. However, despite their global significance, the construction, conceptualisation and proposed provisions offered in suicide prevention policies have, to date, been under researched.
Methodological approach: This article addresses this gap, critically analysing eight contemporary UK suicide prevention policy documents in use in all four nations of the United Kingdom between 2009-2019, using Bacchi and Goodwin’s post-structural critical policy analysis.
Findings: We argue that across our sample of suicide prevention policies, suicide is constructed as self-inflicted, deliberate and death-intentioned. Consequently, these supposedly neutral definitions of suicide have some significant and problematic effects, often individualising, pathologising, and depoliticising suicide in ways that dislocate suicides from the emotional worlds in which they occur. Accordingly, although suicide prevention policies have the potential to think beyond the boundaries of clinical practice, and consider suicide prevention more holistically, the policies in this sample take a relatively narrow focus, often reducing suicide to a single momentary act and centring death prevention at the expense of considering ways to make individual lives more liveable.
Originality: UK suicide prevention policies have not been subject to critical analysis; this study represents the first attempt to examine the way in which suicide is constructed in UK suicide prevention policy documents.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Public Mental Health
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • suicide
  • suicide prevention
  • policy
  • UK
  • critical policy analysis


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