The location of suicide: Cultural parameters of a public health territory
Hazan, H. & Romberg, R.
The impetus driving this article is the uncritical uses of ‘culture’ as an explanatory variable in public health research of ‘suicide’, regarding its conceptualization and operationalization as a mentally riddled phenomenon clamped in nomothetic and epidemiological nomenclature. This reduction of suicide to its presumed ‘evidence based’ figures and graphs under the guise of the lingo of culture requires and yields not only ‘thin’ understandings but also non-committal conclusions. Thus, ‘culture’ merely appears as a ‘thing’ made of shared norms and values that arguably can be measured, computed, and even predicted in relation to tables of suicide rates. With the aim of critically un-disciplining and unleashing these two intersecting fuzzy concepts from the straits of their epistemological habitus, we set an alternative scene of relations between them that contribute to the re-conceptualization of both. ‘Suicide cultures’, a term we coined for highlighting temporal, agentive, performative, and social justice questions of suicide and culture, place the preoccupation with mortality and terminality at its core. This turn in the analysis of public health sheds a non-perfunctory light on the cultural parameters of counting of and accounting for the incidence of suicide in different social settings.