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This project aims to create dialogue around the complex topic of suicide, the deliberate ending of a person’s own life. bringing together research and practice on suicide, which is a problem in all societies in the world, particularly developed ones. Not only do we seek to share understanding of the aetiology of the phenomenon itself, we hope to bring in practitioners who pick up the pieces following suicide, those who work in mental health and other services dedicated to prevention and to early intervention in mental health problems, and those whose lives have been profoundly affected by suicide.

So by definition it is a problem best approached using multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches. No one discipline has a monopology on understanding, and this is reflected in those who read, write and research this topic.

Almost universally, suicide has shame and stigma attached to it, although the ways in which this is expressed varies substantially in different societies. It produces much suffering across generations, within families and social groups. In many societies, it has a gendered pattern, with the male rate up to three times the female rate. In England and Wales, it is the leading cause of death in males aged 20-34 years of age. It is fair to state that everyone knows someone who has committed suicide or been deeply affected by someone who has. Clearly then, the effects reverberate across the social spectrum, and the range of victims is far wider than the person who has taken their own life. Assisted suicide is currently a highly contested topic in very many societies, with groups on both sides of the debate pressing for changes in the law. Self-harm and the connections with suicide are central to the discussion and to the definitional problems.

Suicide is explored in very many disciplines, and inter-disciplinary approaches are often used, because they deepen our understanding of, and insights into, this complex area of human behaviour. It is amenable to exploration from a wide range of perspectives, and it is this rich diversity of perspectives that we seek to bring together in what we intend to be an ongoing set of debates. It is also a highly expressive act, and thus a strong theme in film, theatre and literature.

This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary conference will attract those from many perspectives, including medicine, law, ethics, psychiatry, nursing, social work, counselling, psychotherapy, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, sociology, criminology, history, cultural studies, history, creative writing, music, art, and literature, as well as those who are trying to come to terms with the subject for personal reasons.

Seemingly an intractable problem, and on the rise in some developed societies, we hope to promote dialogue and illuminate the understanding of suicide by bringing together researchers, practitioners, and victims. We also want to bring together those who advocate or oppose assisted suicide, and those who study representations of suicide in literature, film and theatre.