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Feminist Response to Attempted Suicide: A Model for Public Health Intervention

Authors : Rege, Sangeeta; Padma Deosthali

Domestic violence is described as a pattern of continuous or intermittent coercive behaviour and control. It is used to humiliate women and force them to conform/adhere to gender roles...

Domestic violence is described as a pattern of continuous or intermittent coercive behaviour and control. It is used to humiliate women and force them to conform/adhere to gender roles. Each episode of abuse results in physical and psychological trauma that usually remains hidden. One of the most common effects of violence is the infliction of self-harm. Domestic violence has been associated with suicidal ideation and has been one of the leading causes of attempted suicides amongst women. Dilaasa , India 's first hospital based crisis centre was established to address Domestic Violence and provide services to women within the hospital itself. This counselling endeavour brought to light that several women admitted for "accidental consumption of poison" had essentially attempted suicide, the underlying reason being Domestic violence. In order to address this issue, the centre evolved a counselling model which was informed by feminist principles that challenged the main stream psychiatric model of labeling women as involved in "deliberate self harm" or indulging in "impulsive behaviour" but rather as a reaction to an extremely unbearable situation. This paper presents the feminist counselling methodology and illustrates it with examples from the counselling practice. Thus it makes a case for including a feminist counselling approach in public hospitals to the issue of attempted suicides in women

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