Accepted paper:

Administrating Death: Changing meaning(s) of suicide at the intersection of Law, Medicine and Development discourse in India

Authors:

Meghana Rao (University of Toronto)

Paper short abstract:

Attempt to suicide is a criminal offense in India (Sec 309 IPC). There have been several efforts among experts from law and medicine to decriminalize suicide and address it as a medical problem. The question of affect, which is integral to the act of suicide is absent from these discussions. My paper will study the implications of these changes and the role of affect in challenging the prominent medical discourse around suicide in India.

Paper long abstract:

The popular discourse around suicide in the Western world is read almost always as a tragedy. And not only is it a tragedy, it is a tragedy caused by some form of mental illness which could have been stopped by expert medical treatment. In the recent past in India, there is a similar push towards treating suicide as a medical/psychiatric problem. Suicide in India has gained immense interest from both medical and developmental institutions and experts. National and international developmental organizations such as the World Health Organization and International Association for Suicide Prevention, (France) and other national medical institutions such as the National Institute of Medical Sciences, India, have taken interest in addressing the suicide 'problem' in India. In addition to this, attempt to suicide is a criminal offence in India (Section 309). In the past two decades, there have been several discussions among legal and medical experts to decriminalize attempt to suicide and consequently address it as a medical problem. The question of affect, which is integral to the act of suicide is absent from these discussions. My paper will study the implications of shift towards medicalization of suicide and the role of affect in challenging the prominent medical/psychiatric discourse around suicide in India.

panel P12
The aesthetics of suicide