The politics of LGBT+ suicide and suicide prevention in the UK: Risk, responsibility and rhetoric

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Suicide is a major public health concern, patterned by systematic inequalities, with lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+) people being one example of a minoritised group that is more likely to think about and attempt suicide worldwide. To address this, UK national suicide prevention policies have suggested that LGBT+ people should be prioritised in prevention activities. However, there is little research seeking to understand how LGBT+ suicide is re/presented in political and policy spheres. In this article, we critically analyse all mentions of LGBT+ suicide in UK parliamentary debates between 2009 and 2019 and in the eight suicide prevention policies in use during this period. We argue that LGBT+ suicide is understood in two contrasting ways: firstly, as a pathological ‘problem’, positioning LGBT+ people either as risks or as at risk and in need of mental health support. Alternatively, suicide can be seen as externally attributable to perpetrators of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate, requiring anti-hate activities as part of suicide prevention. In response, we argue that although these explanations may appear oppositional; they both draw on reductive explanations of LGBT+ suicide, failing to consider the complexity of suicidal distress, thus constraining understandings of suicide and suicide prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1559-1576
JournalCulture, Health & Sexuality
Issue number11
Early online date13 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • LGBT+
  • suicide
  • UK Parliament
  • policy analysis


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