Early life circumstances and male suicide--a 30-year follow-up of a Stockholm cohort born in 1953

Soc Sci Med. 2010 Feb;70(3):420-427. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.10.026. Epub 2009 Nov 10.


This study analyses the relationship between early life circumstances and suicide during adolescence and young adulthood among men in a Stockholm birth cohort born in 1953. Relevant variables were derived from Durkheim's proposition of social integration and suicide and Merton's strain theory of deviance. The links between our background variables and suicide were estimated with rare events logistic regression, a statistical method specially developed for situations in which rare events are endemic to the data. We found that self-rated loneliness at age 12-13 as an indicator of social isolation, school absenteeism at the same age as an indicator of school integration, and growing up in a family which received means-tested social assistance at least once during the period 1953-1965 as an indicator of childhood poverty, were statistically related to subsequent suicide risk between 1970 and 1984. Furthermore, following Bourdieu's rereading of Durkheim's Suicide, we argue that social isolation and school integration can be seen as important forms of deprivation, since "social integration" can also be understood in terms of "social recognition". This view emphasises the importance of taking the emotional and social poverty of children just as seriously as their material poverty when it comes to suicide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Logistic Models
  • Loneliness
  • Male
  • Poverty
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Sweden