Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 409–418 | Cite as

Explaining Suicide: An Afterword

  • Jean La FontaineEmail author

It is an amazing tribute to the French sociologist, Emile Durkheim (1897), that over a 100 years after his pioneering on suicide (Le Suicide: Etude Sociologique) waspublished, it receives mention by two-thirds of the contributors to this volume. While the reference is not always uncritical, in the case of Niehaus and Picone for example, it nevertheless forms a background to much that has been written here. Durkheim’s success in showing the social dimension of what seemed the most inscrutable of private acts, the ending of one’s own life, was a first great step towards social science’s understanding of suicide. Durkheim argued that no explanation could be based on the individual’s own motivation whether derived from the farewell notes written by suicides or from the ideas of the closest kin and friends, pointing out the self-justificatory nature of the notes and the stereotyped nature of the ‘reasons’ noted in records of the reasons attributed to suicide. To Durkheim this stereotyping...


Attempted Suicide Suicide Rate Actual Suicide Suicide Bomber Female Suicide 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, London School of EconomicsLondonUK

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