Since Durkheim's classic work on suicide, sociological attention to understanding the roots of self-destruction has been inconsistent. In this review, we use three historical periods of interest (pre-Durkheim, Durkheim, post-Durkheim) to organize basic findings in the body of sociological knowledge regarding suicide. Much of the twentieth-century research focused on issues of integration and regulation, imitation, and the social construction of suicide rates. Innovations in the twenty-first-century resurgence of sociological research on suicide are described in detail. These newer studies begin to redirect theory and analysis toward a focus on ethnoracial subgroups, individual-level phenomena (e.g., ideation), and age-period-cohort effects. Our analysis of sociology's contributions, limits, and possibilities leads to a recognition of the need to break through bifurcations in individual- and aggregate-level studies, to pursue the translation of Durkheim's original theory into a network perspective as one avenue of guiding micro-macro research, and to attend to the complexity in both multidisciplinary explanations and pragmatic interventions.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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