On the Biopolitics of Suicide


public health

How to Cite

Gan, Zachary. 2023. “On the Biopolitics of Suicide: Against a Discourse of Public Health”. Canadian Journal for the Academic Mind 1 (1). Ottawa, ON:103-14. https://doi.org/10.25071/2817-5344/52.


This essay critically examines the biopoliticization of suicide, challenging its framing as a public health issue which obscures its cultural and philosophical significance. Drawing from Michel Foucault’s theories of biopower, this essay argues that suicide is externalized, massified, and medicalized under the discourse of public health, leading to its subjugation to biopower’s rhetoric. At the core of this narrative is a powerful presupposition that suicide is separable from the individual who commits the act. Drawing from Primo Levi’s The Drowned and the Saved and Judith Butler’s essay Violence, Politics, and Mourning, this essay conceives suicide as an intentional act of agency, occurring under particular conditions of emotional duress which are created by a historical relay of societal violence. This essay seeks to dismantle the prevailing narrative of suicide, free suicide from its biopolitical rhetoric, and argues that suicide ought to be understood as a radical act which bears witness against the violence of the biopolitical state.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Zachary Gan