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Risk and protective factors for SADness in the furry community: An exploration of suicide, anxiety and depression within the furry community

Abstract
This research explored the risk and protective factors for mental well-being within the furry community. It provided an insight into the prevalence of suicidality, anxiety and depression within the furry community. Finally, this research also sought to explore how being a member of the furry community impacted daily life and life stressors. There is little research that has been performed investigating the mental well-being of the furry community. we therefore draw comparisons with sexual minority communities as there are parallels with the furry community. This research was based upon Meyer (2003)’s Minority Model of Stress which states that minority mental well-being is modified by a range of general stressors, minority stress processes (risk factors), minority identity status, and coping and social support (protective factors). The participant sample consisted of 1249 self-identified furries, recruited from 57 countries. Participants were required to complete an online questionnaire comprising of items relating to suicidality, depression, anxiety, disclosure of furry identity, level of bullying faced, experiences of being bullied, effect of furry community on daily life, fanship, and perceived social support. We found that suicide, anxiety and depression were significant issues within the furry community and the literature suggests that there are several risk and protective factors which influence the mental well-being for members of the furry community. We found limited evidence that these risk factors were associated with mental well-being. Both bullying for non-furry specific reasons was found to be significantly positively associated with all mental well-being measures. Fanship was also found to be positively associated with anxiety and depression. Participants reported that the furry community provided a wide range of support including emotional and social support. which was reported by many participants to have been an influential factor on improving their mental well-being and decreasing their suicidal ideation and self-harming. This study has highlighted that the furry community may provide protective factors including social support to its members. It appears to provide both practical support including providing income or housing, as well as emotional support such as providing a place to seek advice, or to vent and share their emotions.
Type
Thesis
Type of thesis
Series
Citation
Simpson, M. (2018). Risk and protective factors for SADness in the furry community: An exploration of suicide, anxiety and depression within the furry community (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12093
Date
2018
Publisher
The University of Waikato
Rights
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