I’m not afraid of dying because I’ve got nothing to lose : young men in South Africa talk about nonfatal suicidal behavior

Bantjes, Jason ; Mapaling, Curwyn (2019)

CITATION: Bantjes, J. & Mapaling, C. 2021. I’m not afraid of dying because I’ve got nothing to lose : young men in South Africa talk about nonfatal suicidal behavior. American Journal of Men's Health, 15(2):1-11, doi:10.1177/1557988321996154.

The original publication is available at https://journals.sagepub.com


First-person narratives of suicidal behavior may provide novel insights into how individuals with lived experience of suicide understand and narrate their behavior. Our aim was to explore the narratives of young men hospitalized following nonfatal suicidal behavior (NFSB), in order to understand how young suicidal men construct and understand their actions. Data were collected via narrative interviews with 14 men (aged 18–34 years) admitted to hospital following an act of NFSB in Cape Town, South Africa. Narrative analysis was used to analyze the data. Two dominant narratives emerged in which participants drew on tropes of the “great escape” and “heroic resistance,” performing elements of hegemonic masculinity in the way they narrated their experiences. Participants position themselves as rational heroic agents and present their suicidal behavior as goal-directed action to solve problems, assert control, and enact resistance. This dominant narrative is incongruent with the mainstream biomedical account of suicide as a symptom of psychopathology. The young men also articulated two counter-narratives, in which they deny responsibility for their actions and position themselves as defeated, overpowered, wary, and unheroic. The findings lend support to the idea that there is not only one narrative of young men’s suicide, and that competing and contradictory narratives can be found even within a dominant hyper-masculine account of suicidal behavior. Gender-sensitive suicide prevention strategies should not assume that all men share a common understanding of suicide. Suicide can be enacted as both a performance of masculinity and as a resistance to hegemonic gender roles.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/123508
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