Suicide in small-scale societies.


Michel Tousignant.


This review summarizes reports on suicide in small-scale societies, especially the Pacific islands and Papua New-guinea, and shows how Durkheim's theory does not fit contemporary data. Suicide existed long before a radical acculturation and its relationship to social change is complex. Contagion seems to play a role at the village level. Official statistics are usually not valid when compared to fields studies with thorough enquiry into causes of death. Recent reported increases in rates of suicide may be partially due to better data collection. Suicide in small-scale societies is not associated with a process of social alienation as in urbanized societies and the presence of psychiatric illness is less evident. In these settings suicidal behavior is more often characterized by a process of reparation, and its implicite goal is often to regain personal or family dignity rather than a simple act of revenge. CULTURE NOUVELLE-GUINÉE MÉTHODOLOGIE ISOLEMENT ÉPIDÉMIOLOGIE-INTERNATIONALE DURKHEIM MILIEU-RURAL DIGNITÉ PSYCHOPATHOLOGIE TENTATIVE FACTEUR-RISQUE ACCULTURATION

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