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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Understanding married women's suicidal behaviour : counsellors' perceptions of self-concept and marital dynamics White, Jennifer H.


Counsellors' perceptions of married suicidal women were investigated through a qualitative analysis of counsellors' clinical records and follow-up interviews. Four suicide intervention counsellors, ranging in age from 29 to 52, who collectively had 24 years of experience at a suicide intervention counselling agency were the subjects in this study. The experiences of their clients - three suicidal women and one husband of a suicidal woman - provided the material for the analysis of counsellors' clinical reports and follow-up interviews with the investigator. The suicidal women ranged in age from 20 to 41 and the husband was 34 years old. Analysis consisted of three concurent activities: data reduction, data display, and drawing/verifying conclusions. The clients, including one husband were found to suffer from negative self-concepts, previous suicide attempts, depression, and yet they indicated a willingness to get help. According to counsellors, the three wives could be characterized as "overfunctioning", fearful of spouses, prone to minimizing abuse, and committed to the relationships "at any cost." Counsellors found that husbands of the suicidal women tended to abuse alcohol and had explosive tempers. The marital relationships were characterized by intimacy problems, communication problems, and dependency. The families of the clients were found to be plagued by alcoholism, abuse, and mental illness. Counselling approaches included personal empowerment of client, educating about abuse, use of outside resources, making links with the past, and coaching on certain skills. The findings were meaningful as they offered a preliminary framework for understanding married women's suicidal behaviour by acknowledging the social, historical, familial, marital and intrapersonal levels of influence.

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