Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 613–622

Scientism as a Social Response to the Problem of Suicide

Symposium

Abstract

As one component of a broader social and normative response to the problem of suicide, scientism served to minimize sociopolitical and religious conflict around the issue. As such, it embodied, and continues to embody, a number of interests and values, as well as serving important social functions. It is thus comparable with other normative frameworks and can be appraised, from an ethical perspective, in light of these values, interests, and functions. This work examines the key values, interests, and functions of scientism in suicidology and argues that although scientism has had some social benefit, it primarily serves to maintain political and professional interests and has damaging implications for suicide research and prevention.

Keywords

Scientism Suicide Suicidology Ethics 

References

  1. American Association of Suicidology. 2014. Special considerations for telling your own story: Best practices for presentations by suicide loss and suicide attempt survivors. http://www.suicidology.org/Portals/14/docs/Survivors/Loss%20Survivors/Best_Practices_Presentations_Suicide_Loss_Suicide_Attempt_Survivors.pdf. Accessed October 7, 2015.
  2. Aquinas, T. 1990. The Catholic view. In Suicide right or wrong, edited by J. Donnelly, 33–36. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus.Google Scholar
  3. Aristotle. 2000. Nicomachean ethics. Translated by R. Crisp. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Atkinson, J.M. 1975. Cultural aspects of suicide in Britain. In Suicide in different cultures, edited by N.L. Farberow, 135–158. Baltimore: University Park Press.Google Scholar
  5. Battin, M.P. 1995. Ethical issues in suicide. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  6. Bracken, P., and P. Thomas. 2005. Postpsychiatry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brierre De Boismont, A. 1865. Du suicide et de la folie suicide. Paris: Librairie Germer Baillière.Google Scholar
  8. Caine, E.D. 2013. Forging an agenda for suicide prevention in the United States. American Journal of Public Health 103(5): 822–829.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cardinal, C. 2008. Three decades of suicide and life-threatening behavior: A bibliometric study. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 38(3): 260–273.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Colt, G.H. 2006. November of the soul: The enigma of suicide. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar
  11. Costa, L.J., J. Voronka, D. Landry, et al. 2012. Recovering our stories: A small act of resistance. Studies in Social Justice 6(1): 85–101.Google Scholar
  12. Cutcliffe, J.R., and P.B. Ball. 2009. Suicide survivors and the suicidology academe: Reconciliation and reciprocity. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention 30(4): 208–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cutcliffe, J.R., and P.B. Barker. 2002. Considering the care of the suicidal client and the case for “engagement and inspiring hope” or “observations.” Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 9(5): 611–621.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cutcliffe, J.R., and C. Stevenson. 2007. Care of the suicidal person. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.Google Scholar
  15. Cutcliffe, J.R., C. Stevenson, S. Jackson, and P. Smith. 2006. A modified grounded theory study of how psychiatric nurses work with suicidal people. International Journal of Nursing Studies 43(7): 791–802.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davidson, L. 2012. Living recovery. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences 21(4): 365–366.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. de Montaigne, M. 1958. A custom of the island of Cea. In The complete essays of Montaigne, translated by D.M. Frame, 251–261. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. de Wilde, E.J. 2002. Quantitative research in suicidology: Still a well disguised blessing? Archives of Suicide Research 6(1): 55–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Digby, A. 1985. Madness, morality and medicine: A study of the York Retreat, 1796–1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Donne, J. 1977. Biothanatos. New York: Arno Press.Google Scholar
  21. Donnelly, J. 1990. Suicide: Right or wrong. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus.Google Scholar
  22. Douglas, J.D. 1967. The social meanings of suicide. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Durkheim, E. 1951. Suicide: A study in sociology. Translated by J.A. Spaulding and G. Simpson. Glencoe, IL: The Free PressGoogle Scholar
  24. Fearnley, A.M. 2009. Race and the intellectualizing of suicide in the American human sciences, circa 1950–1975. In Histories of suicide: International perspectives on self-destruction in the modern world, edited by J. Weaver and D. Wright, 230–256. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  25. Fitzpatrick, S.J. 2014. Re-Moralizing the suicide debate. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 11(2): 223–232.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fitzpatrick, S.J., C. Hooker, and I. Kerridge. 2014. Suicidology as a social practice. Social Epistemology. ePub ahead of print, March 12. doi:10.1080/02691728.2014.895448.
  27. Foucault, M. 1965. Madness and civilization. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  28. Gaita, R. 2011. After Romulus. Melbourne: Text Publishing.Google Scholar
  29. Giddens, A. 1965. The suicide problem in French sociology. The British Journal of Sociology 16(1): 3–18.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Goldblatt, M.J., M. Schechter, J.T. Maltsberger, and E. Ronningstam. 2012. Comparison of journals of suicidology: A bibliometric study from 2006–2010. Crisis: Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide 33(5): 301–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hamilton, A.M. 1875. Suicide in large cities. Popular Science Monthly 8: 88–95.Google Scholar
  32. Higonnet, M. 1985. Suicide: Representations of the feminine in the nineteenth century. Poetics Today 6(1/2): 103–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Higonnet, M. 2000. Frames of female suicide. Studies in the Novel 32(2): 229–242.Google Scholar
  34. Hill, T. 2004. Ambitiosa Mors: Suicide and self in Roman thought and literature. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Hjelmeland, H., and B.L. Knizek. 2010. Why we need qualitative research in suicidology. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 40(1): 74–80.Google Scholar
  36. Hjelmeland, H., and B.L. Knizek. 2011. Methodology in suicidological research: Contribution to the debate. Suicidology Online 2: 8–10.Google Scholar
  37. Houston, R. 2009. The medicalization of suicide: Medicine and the law in Scotland and England, circa 1750–1850. In Histories of suicide, edited by J. Weaver and D. Wright, 91–118. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  38. Kahne, M.J. 1966. Suicide research: A critical review of strategies and potentialities in mental hospitals. International Journal of Social Psychiatry 12(2): 120–129.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Klein, H.K., and K. Lyytinen. 1985. The poverty of scientism in information systems. In Research methods in information systems, edited by E. Mumford and R. Hirscheim, 123–151. Amsterdam: North Holland.Google Scholar
  40. Kushner, H.I. 1989. Self-destruction in the Promised Land. New Brunswick and London: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Laird, H.A. 2011. Between the (disciplinary) acts: Modernist suicidology. Modernism/Modernity 18(3): 525–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lester, D. 2000. The end of suicidology. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention 21(4): 158–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Loughlin, M., G. Lewith, and T. Falkenberg. 2013. Science, practice and mythology: A definition and examination of the implications of scientism in medicine. Health Care Analysis 21(2): 130–145.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. MacDonald, M. 1989. The medicalization of suicide in England: Laymen, physicians, and cultural change, 1500–1870. The Milbank Quarterly 67(1): 69–91.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Macquarrie, J. 1986. Existentialism. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  46. Maris, R.W., A.L. Berman, and M.M. Silverman. 2000. Comprehensive textbook of suicidology. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  47. Marsh, I. 2010. Suicide: Foucault, history and truth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Marušič, A. 2008. Seven steps to integrating suicidology. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention 29(3): 115–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mellor, P.A., and C. Shilling. 1993. Modernity, self-identity and the sequestration of death. Sociology 27(3): 411–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mills, C. 2014. Decolonizing global mental health. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  51. Minois, G. 2001. History of suicide. Translated by L.G. Cochrane. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Mishara, B.L., and D.N. Weisstub. 2005. Ethical and legal issues in suicide research. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 28(1): 23–41.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention: Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force. 2014. The way forward: Pathways to hope, recovery, and wellness with insights from lived experience. http://actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org/task-force/suicide-attempt-survivors. Accessed October 7, 2015.
  54. Nelson, S., and S. Armson. 2004. Samaritans working with everyone, everywhere. In New approaches to preventing suicide: A manual for practitioners, edited by D. Duffy and T. Ryan, 291–304. London: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
  55. Paperno, I. 1997. Suicide as a cultural institution in Dostoevsky’s Russia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Petersen, A., and D. Lupton. 1996. The new public health: Health and self in the age of risk. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  57. Pilgrim, D., and A. Rogers. 2005. The troubled relationship between psychiatry and sociology. International Journal of Social Psychiatry 51(3): 228–241.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pompili, M. 2010. Suicidology: A new discipline for preventing suicide. In Suicide in the words of suicidologists, edited by M. Pompili, 1–8. New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  59. Rogers, J.R. 2001. Theoretical grounding: The “missing link” in suicide research. Journal of Counseling & Development 79(1): 16–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sadler, J.Z., F. Jotterand, S. Craddock Lee, and S. Inrig. 2009. Can medicalization be good? Situating medicalization within bioethics. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 30(6): 411–425.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Scull, A.T. 1989. Social order/mental disorder: Anglo-American psychiatry in historical perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  62. Stenmark, M. 1997. What is scientism? Religious Studies 33(1): 15–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Taylor, C. 1995. Two theories of modernity. The Hasting Center Report 25(2): 24–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Taylor, C. 2007. A secular age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  65. Tierney, T.F. 2010. The governmentality of suicide: Peuchet, Marx, Durkheim, and Foucault. Journal of Classical Sociology 10(4): 357–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Weaver, J.C. 2009. A sadly troubled history. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Webb, D. 2006. Thinking about suicide: Contemplating and comprehending suicide. Melbourne: Victoria University.Google Scholar
  68. White, J. 2012. Youth suicide as a “wild” problem: Implications for prevention practice. Suicidology Online 3: 42–50.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Rural and Remote Mental HealthThe University of NewcastleOrangeAustralia

Personalised recommendations