Sex & Suicide |
Bhutanese College Life 

By Jaq Poussot 


Research Proposal
Prepared for: Anne Parker, Naropa
Prepared by: Jaq Poussot, ILCS
March 4, 2016
Course Nº: BSA-350

Sex & Suicide in Bhutanese College Life



    As the Institute of Language and Cultural Studies (ILCS) has recently experienced an on-campus suicide, the objective of this research aims to examine the support systems which individuals have at their disposal for suicide prevention & support on campus at ILCS.  This paper also intends to explore the relationship between suicide and sex (intimate and physical relationship(s)) as a catalos for psychological development (Kegan) from Socialized Mind to Self-Authorship. 


     The first generation of Bhutanese to be raised (at least during formative years) with media and it’s imposing influences, including sexualization and relationship expectation are just arriving to college.  According to developmental psychologist, Robert Kegan, our human physiology for sexual behavior develops before our cognitive development catches up (around age 14-17).  Since sexual behaviors are increasing and with it new relationship expectations, more and more college students are at risk of moving from the developmental state of Socialized Mind to that of Self-Authorship (Kegan 1992).  Can be anticipated that as the new generation is developing, via sexually and emotionally mature relationships, they are equally likely to move away from their collective culture, thereby initiate an erosion of Bhutan’s traditional culture?  Or is such a western paradigm relevant in an Eastern context?
    Suicide, is sometimes the result of despair individuals can feel when they are moving between the above mentioned stages and who are experiencing an internal psychological dissonancebetween the trans-generational inherited values, beliefs and expectations while, at the same time, trying to pave a new way.  This transitional phase is a fragile state and the new generation does not have many like minded, understanding resources to turn to for support.  In fact, the transition itself can spawn judgement from previous generations and create alienation which further perpetuates the dissonance.
    It is the goal of this paper to document my experience as a student here on campus of the suicide which has taken place, as well as investigate the experiences of others and inquire to their own personal experiences of media influence, romantic relationships, sexual relationships, and the modernizing of Bhutanese culture on those topics in particular.


    As anthropologists would state, culture is a fluid and dynamic thing.  For this reason, Poststructuralist methodologies will be used in conjunction with interview, Critical theory, Feminist Media research, Difference Theory and ethnography through a feminist lens.      

ILCS Campus Advisors

    Jude Polsky; English LectureR
    Alok Subba; Professor of Anthropology

Questions to Answer

  • What are the rituals of death in the event of suicide in Bhutan/Buddhism
  • How are these carried out at ILCS on behalf of the community where the suicide took place?What are the beliefs and stigma around suicide and mental health in Bhutan & Buddhism?What are the available resources to students in Bhutan for suicide prevention? 
  • What are the available resources to students in Bhutan for grieving and loss?
  • How does GNH play into the creation of pressure on youth to “be happy” and uphold HAPPINESS reputation?  {Happiness Epidemic?}
  • What is the relationship between increase sex and an individuals developmental psychology?  Is this different in non-western contexts?
  • How much do the Bhutanese youth feel cognitive dissonance?
  • How does the shift in youth’s development psychology effect the social and cultural fabric of Bhutan?
  • What is the collective nature of traditional Bhutan?
  • What is the unfolding nature of modernizing Bhutan?
    • New sexual habits
    • New relationship expectations
  • What is the role of media in relationship expectations in Bhutanese youth?
  • What is the role of the traditional stoicism and youth’s ability to express their feelings and emotions?
  • To what extent does expressing ones self manifest judgement and alienation from past generations?

Relevant & Related Orphan Ideas

  • Intercultural Psychology | Appropriateness of Western psych in an Eastern cultural Context
    • Individual vs. Group social work (for a collective society?)
  • Women’s Rights
  • Women’s Empowerment
  • Parenting
    • SPEA | Program Review
    • Suicide Prevention?
    • closing the gap on generation to generation understanding


30 Hours + Internship (a, b or combination of both)

Design A: recruit campus counselor; set-up weekly office hours for students who need help in the wake of the suicide; act as a facilitator and admin to the counselor for making/managing appointments as needed; participate in sessions as ethically appropriate

Design B: initiate english conversation club which discourses personal topics such as: stress, romance, etc.



  • Literature Review
    • Bibliography Attached
  • Media Review
    • Portrayal of romantic relationships in Bhutanese movies (see list below)
    • Portrayal of romantic relationships in Korean films watched by students on ILCS campus (see list below)
    • Portrayal of romantic relationships in magazines, TV programs and advertisements in Bhutan 
      • Dzongkha TV (daytime vs prime time)
      • Hindi channels 
      • The Raven, Kunssel, etc.
  • Catalogue of Campus/Student Accessible Literature of the following categories (i.e. not online):
    • Suicide Prevention & Mental Health Information
    • Sexual Education
    • Relationship & Lifestyle
    • Women’s Health (i.e.: pregnancy, abortion, pleasure, etc…)
  • Interviews
    • Dr. Gampo Dorji, Ministry of Health; current status and YTD progress of 3 year suicide prevention plan
    • Ms. Chimi Wangmo @ R.E.N.E.W. | regarding suicide prevention hotline (pros & cons; connection to college campuses & student accessibility)
    • Dr. Chencho Dorji @ JDWNRH
    • 3-5 individuals from ILCS about their understanding of the boys death, the boy himself and the impact of his suicide on their emotional affect.
    • The Trongsa Head of Police - about the suicide investigation
    • The girlfriend of the boy who committed suicide
    • Nearest Counselor (Trongsa High School) 
    • 2-3 religious figures about the Buddhist belief and understanding of suicide
    • 3-5 ILCS faculty about their training and comfort level with suicide prevention and post-suicide support
    • Ministry of Education (MoE) Interview
    • 3 female college students about their sexual experience and previous education
    • 3 male college students about their sexual experience and previous education
    • Dean of Students regarding ILCS sexual conduct (cases of getting caught, rape, pregnancy, etc…)
  • Personal Journal of the following:
    • Written descriptions & photo/video log of campus events, energy, mood, and rituals in regard to or inspired by campus suicide
    • Personal affect and body-response to events, conversations or silence on the topic of suicide
    • Personal reflection: my relationship to suicide


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