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Social theories of suicide 

Social theories of suicide
Chapter:
Social theories of suicide
Author(s):

Ilkka Henrik Mäkinen

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198570059.003.0023
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date: 17 August 2019

In this chapter, some social theories in relation to suicide are presented together with examples from actual research. Although an individual act, suicide can be studied as a collective phenomenon, for example, as the relative number of cases that occur in different groups. Most social-scientific theories of suicide consider these not only as accumulations of individual observations, but also as results of social-level properties, events, and processes. The social environment in its different forms is thought to be connected with suicidal behaviour in multiple ways—the reasons for, the performance of, and the communication about the act all have strong social components. The currents in social research into suicide coincide largely with those in the social sciences more generally, with a preponderance, however, of structuralist studies following in the footsteps of Emile Durkheim.

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