Volume 10   Number 2     Fall 2017

Developing a Discussion Away From Biomedical Approaches To One Embedded in the Social and Cultural Life of Individuals

Cathy Nicholson
London School of Economics and Political Science, England

pp. 107-115

Abstract. Understanding suicide has long been a subject of great interest across many disciplines since the late nineteenth century when Durkheim stressed the significance of collective cohesion as a factor related to individual behaviour. Over time this relationship has shifted more to the study of individual behaviour affected by a plethora of varying variables. Rosa & Tavares (2017) suggest a move away from an inter-individual biomedical approach discussion on suicide, to one that takes into account the context of the cultural and social life of individuals. A theoretical argument for this perspective centres on the significance of meaning making within the dialogical self theory, coupled with the significance of how suicide is represented –referring to social representation theory—within the social and cultural life of the individual. The ensuing model derived from this theoretical positioning suggests how the relationship between the Self and the sociocultural setting can serve as a base from which to pursue supportive programs in order to steer individuals away from the act of suicide. This commentary adds a further theoretical dimension to discuss how the role of identity in suicidal behaviour can also be developed by thinking of suicide as an act dialogically immersed in the sociocultural context, rather than solely as an individual identity position related to a particular sociocultural context.


Keywords: suicide, the dialogical self, social representations, identity construction