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Arch Suicide Res. 2013;17(3):242-61. doi: 10.1080/13811118.2013.805644.

Shame behind the masks: the parents' perspective on their sons' suicide.

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Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Suicides are more frequent among boys than girls. A tentative, conceptual model of processes behind suicide among boys and young men (aged 12-25), grounded in their parents' views, is presented. Extensive interviews with parents in 33 cases of suicide were analyzed using grounded-theory methodology. Family alliances, coalitions, and secrets interacted with the boy concealing problems and "hiding behind a mask," while the professionals did not understand the emergency. Four interwoven paths to suicide were found: the boy was hunted and haunted, addicted, depressed, or psychotic. Different forms of shame were hidden behind the masks of "the clown," "the warrior," and "the prince." Future preventive programs need to address barriers to communication among all parties involved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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