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. Spring 2001;31(1):15-31.
doi: 10.1521/suli.31.1.15.21306.

Learnings From Durkheim and Beyond: The Economy and Suicide

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Learnings From Durkheim and Beyond: The Economy and Suicide

B Y Lester. Suicide Life Threat Behav. .

Abstract

This empirical study commemorates Durkheim's contribution to suicidology by reviewing his own and his followers' formulation of the relationship between the business cycle and suicide. Three distinctive sociological theories of suicide, including Durkheim's, were identified to link the suicide rate to the socio-economic environment of the society. A real-income hypothesis of suicide was developed to capture (a) the positive impact of the economy on suicide, (b) the curvilinear impact of the economy on suicide implied by Durkheim's proposition, and (3) the interplay of both economic and sociological variables on suicide. Another implication from the reformulation is that there may exist a positive natural rate of suicide for any society. These two hypotheses were tested using the 1990 census data for the continental states of the United States. Some conclusions and suggestions were drawn for future research.

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