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An examination of how a composite novel can be used as a tool to explore social, moral and emotional effects of trauma from suicide loss

Lownes, Andrea (2020) An examination of how a composite novel can be used as a tool to explore social, moral and emotional effects of trauma from suicide loss. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

The aims of this creative project are to explore the effects of suicide trauma on survivors and to bring the taboo of men’s mental health and suicide to the fore through the creation of an historical composite novel entitled The Fallout. The driving force behind this project is the suicide of my husband and partner of twenty years. His mental health was a moot point for many years and the stigma surrounding it meant that he felt unable to ask for or seek help. It was most definitely a contributing factor to his suicide. The creative piece, The Fallout, is comprised of four independent stories that are linked through one event: the suicide of a Baron in the north of England in the twelfth century. The four stories are: ‘Ena’, the kitchen servant that finds the body, set the morning after the suicide; ‘Peter’, the brother of the Baron’s mistress, set early a month after the suicide; ‘Isolde’, the baron’s wife, set nearly three years after the suicide; and ‘Matthew’, the Baron’s heir, set fifteen years after the suicide. Each story has its own narrative arc and therefore can stand alone or they can be read together.

The choice of a composite style was to reflect the effects of trauma: the fact that you are isolated. You may be part of a family or community but at the same time your trauma creates barriers that are difficult to break down or through. Each story focuses on a different person, thus I have the opportunity to explore how trauma affects different people in different ways regardless of age, gender or class. In this way I am attempting to normalise the diversity of trauma and its, often, devastating effects. Setting The Fallout in the twelfth century enables me to examine contemporary issues of mental health, suicide and trauma but through a lens. Setting it hundreds of years in the past means that it is so far removed from contemporary society that I can offer the reader security and perhaps limit the adverse triggers to their own mental health.

The most important things for me when writing the creative piece was that I had a solid ethical underpinning and that there was a strong sense of realism. Realism needed to come from both the historical context and from the representation of trauma. The use of language used by the characters and details of the their surroundings are appropriate to the late twelfth century without being overwhelming. Representation of trauma is also factual and realistic both in accordance with trauma critics and also with a suicide survivor focus group that I set up. Ethically I knew that I needed to offer readers hope, something outlined by the WHO and The Samaritans. This is something that is encouraged through previous research into the effects of suicide in the media, on screen and on stage. It is referred to as the Papageno effect, the suggestion is that if hope is given alongside coping strategies and that resilient characters are drawn then this could in turn reduce suicidal ideation and behaviours.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Depositing User: Andrew Strike
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2021 13:10
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2021 13:10
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/35338

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