Macquarie University
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Reconstructing responses following communications of intent to suicide: what role do gender norms play?

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posted on 2022-03-28, 17:15 authored by Harriet Townsend
Men who suicide outnumber women 3:1 yet women exhibit more suicidal behaviours than men, a phenomenon known as 'the gender paradox'. Previous studies have explained this paradox as a consequence of suicide method choices between men and women, but these explanations may not be sufficient, we examine whether responses to communications of intent to suicide may also affect the gender paradox. This thesis aims to answer: what role do gender norms play in responses to communications of intent to suicide? A mixed-method (quantitative and qualitative) 'sociological autopsy' was performed on 175 cases of people who made a communication of intent before they died by suicide in Queensland during 2014. Communications made to both lay people (such as friends and partners) and/or organisations (such as police or mental health professionals) were examined. Quantitative results indicate that not only may gender norms play a role in responses to communications of intent, but also how they communications are made and who they are made to. The qualitative analysis includes reconstructed case types, drawn from multiple cases of suicide and show that masculinities (violent, subordinate, and rational) played a major role in how people, particularly (female) partners, responded to communications of intent made by suicidal men. The gender paradox may, to some extent, also be explained by how suicidal men engage with their social spheres when they communicate intent to suicide and in turn, how these people respond.


Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction -- Chapter Two: Literature Review -- Chapter Three: Methodology and method -- Chapter Four: Results -- Chapter Five: Conclusion.


"A sociological autopsy" -- title page. Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 72-76

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Sociology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Sociology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Tobia Fattore

Additional Supervisor 1

Gabrielle Campbell


Copyright Harriet Townsend 2019. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (78 pages)

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