Year: 2012 Source: Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry.(2012).36(2):182-203. SIEC No: 20120039

More than a century after DurkheimÕs sociological classic placed the subject of suicide as a concern at the heart of social science, ethnographic, cross-cultural analyses of what lie behind peopleÕs attempts to take their own lives remain few in number. But by highlighting how the ethnographic method privileges a certain view of suicidal behaviour, we can go beyond the limited sociological and psychological approaches that define the field of ÔsuicidologyÕ in terms of social and psychological ÔpathologyÕ to engage with suicide from our informantsÕ own points of view, and in so doing cast the problem in a new light and new terms. In particular, suicide can be understood as a kind of sociality, as a special kind of social relationship, through which people create meaning in their own lives. In this introductory essay we offer an overview of the papers that make up this special issue and map out the theoretical opportunities and challenges they present

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