Call for Abstracts – Special Issue of Health

Call for Abstracts on Critical Suicide Studies: Between Methodology and Ethics

For a Special Issue of Health: an Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine

Special issue guest editors: Amy Chandler (University of Edinburgh); Rob Cover (RMIT University); Scott Fitzpatrick (University of Newcastle)


Critical Suicide Studies marks an ongoing re-thinking of suicide and self-harm and a broadening of traditional research approaches to understanding, theorising, and intervening. In seeking to develop renewed and novel frameworks and strategies, Critical Suicide Studies provides a theoretically diverse, methodologically flexible, and interdisciplinary study of suicide and self-harm that takes into account how these phenomena are shaped by history, politics, identity, culture, media, and power. This special issue aims to further advance knowledge by presenting new work that engages critically with research method and ethics – connecting with concerns that are relevant to much critical health scholarship.

Suicide and self-harm are widely acknowledged as complex and multifactorial, and research spans disciplines. Yet despite this diversity, concepts of health and disease play a defining role in determining the objects of study and influencing policy and practice. Competing claims to expert knowledge, the criteria by which they are evaluated, and the suicide prevention practices which they support are, therefore, an important focus of inquiry. These issues are linked to questions of how best to represent those who end their own lives or engage in self-harm which, in turn, can be linked to how different types of knowledge are evaluated and justified in relation to prevailing socio-political and cultural norms. The nexus between methodology and ethics represents a critical space for understanding the use and valuation of knowledge that particular methods produce, and the normative space that researchers inhabit and that guide action.

The purpose of this special issue is to bring diverse international perspectives to bear on methodological and ethical questions relating to the study of suicide and self-harm, and the implications of this knowledge for practice. Researchers – critical or otherwise – do not stand outside the moral realm. In making claims about the nature of suicide and self-harm and ways of responding to it, research embodies and legitimates a moral response to it. While researchers have typically rejected the notion of suicide and self-harm as morally wrong, the ethic of prevention remains prevalent. Thus, the very practice of suicide research is a deeply moral practice where questions of how to research suicide and self-harm carry significant ethical weight.

Call for Abstracts

We invite papers which engage with ethical and methodological challenges and opportunities in Critical Suicide Studies from writers and researchers working from diverse disciplinary perspectives, aligned with the interdisciplinary aims of Health. Contributing authors should examine and analyse how our thinking about methodology (and health practices, more broadly) come from cultural and contextual perspectives and may, in many cases, draw from or engage with lived experience. We anticipate reflection on the implications of these diverse perspectives and connections with our topic of study. Papers should consider how methodological and ethical challenges arise and are responded to in (critical) research on/with self-harm and suicide, though they may also consider implications for related health-related conditions and practices, especially those that are similarly stigmatised, and patterned unequally across our societies.

Key dates

  • Abstract deadline: 31st March 2020
  • Decisions by: April 30th 2020
  • Full papers by: December 1st 2020.
  • Review process completed: February 28th 2021
  • Final papers ready: July 2021
  • Publication expected: January 2022

(Note, papers will be available ‘online first’ prior to formal publication in 2022)

Please submit abstracts of up to 300 words to: by 31st March 2020