Suicide, Sociology of

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Suicide, the act of deliberately killing oneself, is shaped by a confluence of biological, psychological, social, economic, and cultural factors. When attempting to explain suicide, psychologists emphasize individual-level factors that are partly determined by biology, such as a history of mental illness or substance abuse. In contrast, sociologists recognize the important social aspects of suicide, focusing on variation in suicide at the aggregate level. Numerous cross-sectional and longitudinal studies provide support for the Durkheimian perspective that social integration and regulation, proxied by religious and demographic composition, family structure, and economic conditions, are associated with suicide rates. Contagion and access to means also play a role. A multidisciplinary approach to understanding suicide is required, integrating the micro and macro, social and psychological, and quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


  • Demographic groups
  • Durkheim
  • Economy
  • Family
  • Life course
  • Mental illness
  • Mortality
  • Prevention
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • Self-inflicted harm
  • Social integration
  • Social regulation
  • Sociology
  • Suicide


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