Penn State

B. C. Ben Park - Professor of HDFS, Penn State Brandywine

Book Title: Understanding Suicide: A Sociological Autopsy

Author: B. Fincham, S. Langer, J. Scourfield, and M. Shiner

Book Description:

Suicide has become a leading cause of death on a global scale. According to the World Health Organization (1999), “nearly one million people die from suicide,” and suicidal behavior continues to rise globally, most notably in non-Western countries. While the reason why has been unanswered, Fincham, Scourfield, and Shiner (2011) challenge the prevailing methodology that exclusively focuses on pathological aspects within an individual to find the source of suicidal behavior. Drawing upon the Durkheimian tradition and social constructionism, the authors illuminate the linkage of social and cultural milieus to this seemingly individual act of self-destruction. They argue that suicidal behavior is best understood “by the changing relationships people have to their perceptions of their situations” (p. 107) and the meanings they attach to the situation they are in. This book helped me see that increased suicidal behavior in the modern era can be linked to forces of globalization that disrupt longstanding social relationships along with a shift of cultural meanings.

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