Jennifer H. White

Jennifer H. White
School of Child and Youth Care

BA (UVic), MA, EdD (UBC)


Dr. Jennifer White is a Professor in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria. Jennifer has a BA in Psychology from the University of Victoria. She has an MA in Counselling Psychology and an EdD in Educational Leadership from UBC. Jennifer has practiced as a child and youth care worker, counsellor, educator, policy consultant, researcher, and community developer.

Practice background

Jennifer began her career as a CYC practitioner at Hull Services in Calgary in the late 1980’s. She worked in Cottage 7. From 1988-91, she worked as a counselor in a community mental health setting in Vancouver which specialized in providing therapeutic interventions to individuals touched by suicide. Jennifer worked for the provincial government in Alberta as a youth suicide prevention educator and community developer from 1991-95-. Prior to coming to the University of Victoria, Jennifer served as the Director of the Suicide Prevention Information and Resource Centre, Mental Health Evaluation and Community Consultation Unit (MHECCU), Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia from 1995-2002.

Research background

Jennifer has a longstanding interest in studying everyday practice in Child and Youth Care which includes a consideration of the diverse ways of knowing, doing and being that inform this work. Jennifer utilizes a range of qualitative research methodologies, including narrative, constructionist, discursive and case study approaches. In the past she has used these methodologies to study program planning, child welfare, and youth suicide prevention education practice. Jennifer is also interested in advancing and supporting the professional development of CYC practitioners and she has developed a praxis-oriented framework which aims to support ethical, self-aware, responsive and accountable action.

Research interests

Discourses of Youth Suicide Prevention

Life Promotion

Narrative Ideas and Community Work

Program Planning Practice

Pedagogy and Teaching

Professional Ethics

Constructionist Methodologies

Critical Discourse Analysis

Relational Leadership

Current work

Jennifer is interested in studying contemporary discourses of youth suicide prevention. Through critically informed, relational approaches to inquiry, she seeks to explore alternatives to the standardized, expert-driven, one-size-fits-all, risk factor based approach to youth suicide prevention. The idea is not to replace current approaches to prevention, but rather to expand our understandings and vocabularies and allow multiple possibilities and approaches to proliferate. Jennifer is one of original founders of the Critical Suicidology Network which is a growing international network of scholars who are interested in exploring alternatives to biomedical approaches to suicide prevention.

Working as part of a research team, in collaboration with Indigenous scholars, leaders, elders and youth, Jennifer is currently leading a project called “Wise Practices for Life Promotion and Suicide Prevention” that is funded by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) of Health Canada.  This project seeks to curate a series of wise practices for promoting life based on what is already working and/or showing promise in First Nations communities across the country. The final online resource will be designed to be culturally relevant and responsive to the lived realities of young people and all who are invested in wellness for First Nations youth.

The intention is to honour and give credit to what is already happening in communities in all regions of Canada, and to draw links and connections among them for mutual benefit.  This project aims to both be informed by, and eventually inform, a range of projects and resources related to the promotion of life, resilience and wellbeing among First Nations youth. 

Jennifer is also collaborating with Dr. Patti Ranahan (Concordia University) on an ethnographic study that examines the implementation processes surrounding a provincial suicide prevention gatekeeper training initiative in British Columbia. This project is funded by CMHA-BC.  This study builds on the important contributions of others who have highlighted the important role of organizational influences and policies in how gatekeeper training gets taken up. It will showcase how a close and careful study of implementation processes can make a very practical contribution to future practice by identifying the factors and conditions that enable success.

Recent Publications

White, J. (2017). What can critical suicidology do? Death Studies, 41(8), 472-480.

Kral, M., Morris, J. & White, J. (2017). Seeing suicidology in a new light. Death Studies, 41(8), 469-471.

Kral, M.J. & White, J. (2017). Moving toward a critical suicidology’. Ann Psychiatry Ment Health 5(2), 1099.

White, J., Kouri, S. & Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. (2017). Risking attachments in teaching child and youth care in 21st century settler colonial, environmental and biotechnological worlds. International Journal of Social Pedagogy.

White, J. (2015). An ethos for the times: Difference, imagination and the unknown future in child and youth care.  International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies, 6(4), 498-515.

White, J. (2015). Qualitative evidence in suicide ideation, attempts, and prevention of suicide. Handbook of Qualitative Research for Evidence-Based Practice (pp. 335-354).  New York: Springer.

White, J. (2015). Re-imagining youth suicide prevention education. In J. White, I. Marsh, M. Kral & J. Morris (Eds.). Critical suicidology: Transforming suicide research and prevention for the 21st century. Vancouver: UBC Press.

White, J. (2015). Thinking about borders and tangled meshes [Editorial] International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies Review

White, J. (2015). Shaking up suicidology. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4 (6), 1-4.

White, J. & Kral, M. (2014). Re-thinking youth suicide: Language, culture and power. Journal of Social Action for Counseling and Psychology, 6(1), 122-142.

Wexler, L., White, J. & Trainor, B. (2014). Why an alternative to suicide prevention gatekeeper training is needed for rural Indigenous communities: presenting an empowering community storytelling approach. Critical Public Health. doi:

White, J. (2014). Expanding and democratizing the youth suicide prevention agenda: Youth participation, cultural responsiveness and social transformation. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 33(1), 95-106.

Hoskins, M. & White, J. (2013). Relational inquiries and the research interview: Mentoring future researchers. Qualitative Inquiry, 19(3), 179-188.

White, J. & Stoneman, L. (2012). Thinking and doing prevention: A critical analysis of contemporary youth crime and suicide prevention discourses. Child and Youth Services,33, 104-126.

White, J., Morris, J., & Hinbest, J. (2012).  Collaborative knowledge-making in the everyday practice of youth suicide prevention.  International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 25(3), 339-355.

White, J. (2012). Youth suicide as a ‘wild problem:’ Implications for prevention practice. Suicidology Online, 3, 42-50.

White, J., Morris, J., & Hinbest, J. (2012).  Collaborative knowledge-making in the everyday practice of youth suicide prevention.  International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 25(3), 339-355.

Edited Books

Pence, A. & White, J.  (Eds.). (2011). Child and youth care: Critical perspectives on pedagogy, practice and policy. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.

White, J., Marsh, I., Kral, M. & Morris, J. (2016) (Eds.). Critical suicidology: Transforming suicide research and prevention for the 21st century. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Practitioner Guidelines and Unpublished Reports

White, J. & Mushquash, C. (2016). We belong: Life promotion to address Indigenous suicide. Thunderbird Partnership Foundation.

White, J. (2014). Practice guidelines for working with children and youth at-risk for suicide in community mental health settings. Prepared for the Child and Youth Mental Health Policy Team, Ministry for Children and Family Development.

White, J. (2013). Preventing youth suicide: A guide for practitioners. Child and Youth Policy Team, Ministry for Children and Family Development.