Tag Archives: Aboriginal suicide

The Durkheim-Tarde debate and the social study of aboriginal youth suicide

Niezen, R. (2014). The Durkheim-Tarde debate and the social study of aboriginal youth suicide. Transcultural psychiatry, 52(1): 96-114. doi:10.1177/1363461514557560

A debate that took place in France in the early 20th century still has much to tell us about the interpretation and strategies of intervention of suicide, particularly the “cohort effect” of aboriginal youth suicide. The act of suicide, for Durkheim, was inseparable from the problem of social cohesion, with extremes in solidarity and regulation predictably reflected in high rates of suicide. For Gabriel Tarde, by contrast, suicide was seen as an outcome of changeable ideas found in processes of innovation and imitation among creatively receptive individuals. This latter approach remains overlooked in favor of a growing reliance on conceptions of historical trauma and conditions of social disintegration. Recognizing the idea of suicide itself as a potential locus of solidarity opens up other possibilities for responding to and intervening in suicide crises or “clusters.”

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