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Type: Journal article
Title: Suicide research before Durkheim
Author: Goldney, R.
Schioldann, J.
Dunn, K.
Citation: Health and History, 2008; 10(2):73-93
Publisher: Australian Society of the History of Medicine
Issue Date: 2008
ISSN: 1442-1771
Statement of
Robert D. Goldney, Johan A. Schioldann, and Kirsten I. Dunn
Abstract: The casual reader could be forgiven for assuming that there had been little systematic research on suicide before the work of the French sociologist, Emile Durkheim, published in 1897. This historical review demonstrates that there had been extensive studies in the preceding centuries, addressing not only the importance of social factors, but also those factors which are now subsumed in the medical model. In fact, some earlier reviews can now be seen as more balanced and comprehensive than that of Durkheim. In the twentieth century. the predominant focus of suicide research was on the importance of psychosocial factors, a focus which was undoubtedly a legacy of the influential work of Durkheim. Indeed, in 1971 Alvin Alvarez stated that the study of suicide had become the subject of intensive scientific research. The change began in 1897 with the publication of Emile Durkheim's classic Suicide: A Study in Sociology, and more recently Alexander Murray noted that, if the study of suicide had its own era it would divide into two ages, before and after that book ... Le Suicide ... which, more than any other, established its subject as a specialization. Therefore it is not unexpected that many believe that there had not been any substantial suicide research before Durkheim, let alone any which had addressed illness and biological factors and their inter-relationship with society.
Keywords: Humans; Suicide; Psychology, Medical; Sociology, Medical; Biomedical Research; History, 17th Century; History, 18th Century; History, 19th Century
RMID: 0020084584
DOI: 10.2307/40111304
Published version:
Appears in Collections:Psychiatry publications

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