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Somatechnics and the impossible subject of suicide
thesisposted on 2023-04-06, 05:14 authored by Saartje Tack
Suicide is consistently framed as a problem in need of resolution. Suicidology, the key field in the production of knowledge about suicide, positions suicide as a symptom of individual (psycho)pathology. In recent years, however, the emergent field of critical suicidology has critiqued suicidological understandings of suicide and has begun to emphasise the importance of acknowledging its social, cultural, and discursive factors. Each of these two fields employs vastly different approaches to the study of suicide, yet they share the mutual conviction that suicide must be prevented. The pervasiveness of this view is further expressed in a wide variety of cultural domains, including the media, law, medicine, and the general public. In this thesis, rather than continuing efforts in the service of suicide prevention, I critically interrogate the very notion of prevention as the only possible response to suicide. I deploy somatechnics as a critical orientation that explicates the mutually constitutive relationship between bodies and technologies, and as such the ways in which individual lives are incorporated into wider structures through a range of regulatory mechanisms. I argue that in a biopolitical apparatus, a range of technologies operate so as to render both suicide and the suicidal subject impossible. In other words, because suicide cannot be recognised as a legitimate choice in the framework of suicide prevention, the suicidal subject is instantly relegated to de-agentified subject positions such as mentally ill, vulnerable, and victim, and thus cannot exist as suicidal subject. In highlighting the somatechnics implicated in suicide, then, I bring somatechnics and suicide into a critical conversation to begin reformulating agency and subjectivity in suicidal being.