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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A strengths-based exploration of the lived experiences of sexual and/or gender minority women with past suicide attempts Dhari, Shivinder


Suicidality, including ideation, plans, and attempts remains a significant public health issue in Canada for individuals who self-identify as a sexual and/or gender minority; particularly sexual and/or gender minority women (SGMW) who self-identify as lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer, are often at an increased risk for suicide ideation and attempts compared to other sexual and/or gender minority groups. Despite this increase in risk, there remains a paucity of qualitative research examining the lived experiences of SGMW who have attempted suicide. In this study, photovoice methods, underpinned by the minority strengths model, were used to understand the lived experiences of SGMW who have attempted suicide and ways they continue to embody the strength and resiliency to continue living post-attempt. Drawing on 11 interviews, three themes were generated using reflexive thematic analysis: (ⅰ) “I can just be”: finding comfort in their own skin; (ⅱ) “Anchoring to life”: the role of connection and belonging: and (ⅲ) “Staying alive”: the journey continues. Finding comfort in their own skin was characterized by the acceptance of the participants sexual orientation and gender identity – both by themselves and by others – which enhanced their resiliencies in continuing to live post-attempt. Participants feeling of anchoring to life came from having a sense of connection and belonging gained via social support networks in survival post-attempt. Staying alive post-attempt was a journey for participants which required consistent effort involving seeking professional mental health services and effective self-management. The findings of this study offer insights for healthcare practitioners, both in the acute and outpatient clinical settings, including creation of safe spaces for SGMW and a strengths-based approach to care to further bolster individual and family resilience.

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