Genetic and Social Influences in the Causation of Suicide

  • Erwin Stengel
Part of the Eugenics Society Symposia book series (ESS)


It is generally taken for granted that genetic as well as social factors play a part in all normal and abnormal behaviour. There are some patterns of behaviour for which the co-existence of both these factors has so far not been clearly demonstrated. Suicide is such a pattern. The role of social influences in its causation is well documented. They have, in fact, been more frequently and more thoroughly investigated than any others, owing to the early involvement of sociologists in suicide research. The literature about the psychopathology of suicide is less extensive, and very little has been written about the role of genetic factors. Some clinical and epidemiological observations have tended to suggest that heredity does play a part in the causation of suicide. Familial incidence of suicide has been noted by many workers, but the published data are not comparable and there is a lack of controlled studies. For instance, Dahlgren1 found that in 6 per cent of 237 cases of attempted suicide admitted to hospital at Malmö, Sweden, there had already been a suicide in the family; but his sample was unrepresentative.


Depression Schizophrenia 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erwin Stengel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of SheffieldUK

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