Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 225–244 | Cite as

Suffering, Frustration, and Anger: Class, Gender and History in Sri Lankan Suicide Stories

  • Tom WidgerEmail author
Original Paper


This paper explores competing stories of suffering, frustration and anger that shape the performance and reception of suicidal behaviours in contemporary Sri Lanka. Drawing from the results of 21 months of ethnographic fieldwork, I show how suicidal acts fit within broader narratives of class and gender experience and expression that draw from contemporary and historical ‘folk’ and ‘state’ discourses. Debates over whether suffering, frustration and anger are legitimate socio-effective states to exhibit come to determine the kinds of claims and counter-claims that suicidal people on the one hand, and those charged with their treatment and management on the other, can make with regard to the efficacy of suicide as a means of social action. Through such debates—not only what it means to be suicidal in Sri Lanka but also what it means to be middle class or working class, male or female, etc. are made and remade anew.


Suicide Class Gender History Sri Lanka 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, School of Global StudiesUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

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