Year: 1994 Source: Acta Sociologica, v.37, no.2, (1994), p.195-206 SIEC No: 20070864

Durkheim’s treatment of the social causes of suicide has remained central to sociological theory in general and to sociological treatment of suicide in particular. The two main alternative paradigms for understanding suicide are suicide suggestion and depression. Both these paradigms are derived from 19th-century perspectives rejected by Durkheim. In this paper an attempt is made to bring them together in a single causal model of suicidal behavior involving integration, suggestion and psychological distress. It is argued that social support is in fact the main protective aspect of social integration, and that social support may in conjunction with suicide suggestion influence suicidal behavior both directly and indirectly through depression Survey data on the whole population of Icelandic youth in two cohorts are split randomly into model estimation and model testing samples. A causal model of suicidal behavior, involving mental and material support by family and by others, depression and suicide suggestion is then estimated and tested by structural equation modeling. Suicidal behavior is found to be most strongly affected by mental support by family and by suicide suggestion, with depression as an intervening vanable.