The role of gender and sexual relations for young people in identity construction and youth suicide
The suicide rate among young people in Australia has caused considerable concern and been the focus of research and intervention. Issues related to sexuality and gender can be the source of conflict for young people within their communities, and have been implicated in suicide attempts. This paper examines the cultural context of youth suicide, and asks how youth suicide may be related to emerging sexual identity, which all young people must negotiate through the customs, discourse and taboos of their society. In particular, it focuses on the situation of young heterosexual women. The findings are based on interviews with 41 young people, parents and youth service providers regarding youth suicide. Interviews were semi-structured and open-ended, and conducted in a suburban community. They included the use of scenarios or vignettes. Finding, suggest that traditional constructions of gender remain widespread, and that these are often disadvantageous to both young women and young men. Parents may be unaware that they have little control over, or even knowledge about, their teenagers' behaviour. Young people are more inclined to confide in their friends, who may not be equipped to deal with crises.