Pride after Prejudice?LGBT mental health and suicidal            ‘risk’                   Dr Katherine Johnson            ...
Contemporary concerns• LGBT people are more likely to suffer  from psychological distress than  heterosexual people• Lates...
What causes it? • After legacy of pathology growing   acceptance that this is a response   to social factors • Linked to f...
Why is it a problem?• Concern for psychological well-being but some  big gaps in terms of understanding the  relationship ...
Is this an appropriate form of action?• Be cautious….• Individualizes response to social  environment• Risks ‘repathologis...
‘Affective Activism’ as form of action• What is being communicated in accounts of LGBT  suicidal distress?    – suicide is...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Katherine Johnson

280 views
257 views

Published on

Katherine Johnson's presentation at Pride After Prejudice- 31st October 2011 (prideafterprejudice.org)

Published in: Health & Medicine, Technology
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
280
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
60
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
0
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Katherine Johnson

  1. 1. Pride after Prejudice?LGBT mental health and suicidal ‘risk’ Dr Katherine Johnson University of Brighton ESRC Festival of Social Science, Bristol, 31 October 2011
  2. 2. Contemporary concerns• LGBT people are more likely to suffer from psychological distress than heterosexual people• Latest UK study claims that “LGB people are at higher risk of suicidal behaviour, mental disorder, and substance misuse and dependency than heterosexual people” • 2 fold increase in risk in previous year and 4 fold increase over life time for gay and bisexual men.• Not just about LGBT youth…• Significant difference in psychological well being for LGB people under 40
  3. 3. What causes it? • After legacy of pathology growing acceptance that this is a response to social factors • Linked to forms of discrimination – For example, more likely to have been verbally of physically abused in last 5 years • Minority stress – Factors such as feelings of rejection, isolation and shame because of non-normative identity development
  4. 4. Why is it a problem?• Concern for psychological well-being but some big gaps in terms of understanding the relationship between mental health and suicide – Conflates suicide with mental health (this is not an explanation) – Conflates accounts of suicidal thoughts and feelings with actual suicides – We do not know if LGBT are more likely to take their lives than heterosexual people. – All we know is that LGBT people are more likely to report having thought about suicide or having self-harmed.• The recommendations that have been drawn from these studies include – A need for research to document whether LGBT are more likely to take their lives – Inclusion of LGB people on national suicide prevention strategies as a ‘high risk group’
  5. 5. Is this an appropriate form of action?• Be cautious….• Individualizes response to social environment• Risks ‘repathologising’ all LGBT people by creating a cultural narrative that positions us all as ‘suicidal’• Risks promoting this as an ‘acceptable’ form of action for LGBT youths and adults• If we could document actual suicides would we want to explain these in terms of sexuality – We wouldn’t do this in terms of heterosexuality
  6. 6. ‘Affective Activism’ as form of action• What is being communicated in accounts of LGBT suicidal distress? – suicide is not primarily about a psychological state (such as mental illness), but is “a response to a psycho-social dilemma concerning the desperate need for connection with others in tension with the inevitable difficulties inherent in that connection” – “…shame-humiliation throughout life can be thought of as an inability to effectively arouse the other person’s positive reactions to one’s communication (and that) for certain (“queer”) people, shame is the first, and remains a permanent, structuring fact of identity”• Perhaps not a desire to die, but a desire to coming out of shame… a need for connection• There are limits to public health policy interventions that link LGBT identities to suicide – Need for better social environments that allow for the transference of feelings of shame or humiliation into acceptable interest – Need for strategies to enable a dialogue about the shared emotional elements of our lives rather than identity differences

×