Next BSA London MedSoc Seminar

British Sociological Association
London Medical Sociology Group Meeting
Wednesday 10th October, 6pm

Dr. Michael Shiner, LSE - When Things Fall Apart: Suicide and the Life-course


This paper presents the results of an innovative qualitatively-driven mixed methods study of suicide. Our aim was to transcend what we see as the unhelpful dichotomies that have shaped suicide studies and social science more generally. To this end we sought to combine sociological thinking, dating back to Durkheim, with psychoanalytic perspectives. The empirical analysis shows that while young men are often said to be at particular risk of suicide, such claims are partial and potentially misleading. Official statistics and analysis of 100 cases files from a single coroner's office in the UK are used to show that the vulnerability of 'young' men to suicide is often exaggerated and that insufficient attention is paid to the diverse social circumstances of suicidal men and women across the life course. Patterns of suicide, it
will be argued, can be seen to map on to conventional features of a socially structured life course, with young people in crisis, mid-life gendered patterns of work and family and older people in decline. Particular attention is drawn to suicide among those in mid-life and to the role of social bonds, especially in the form of attachment. Relationship breakdown is considered in some detail because it is central to understanding the demography of suicide and the significance of social bonds.

Dr. Michael Shinerstudied history at the University of Leicester and Social Research Methods at the University of Surrey. He is currently Senior Lecturer in the Social Policy Department at LSE and Co-Director of the Mannheim Centre for Criminology. In 1995 he won the Sociology of Health and Illness New Writer's Prize for an article on homeless people's access to health care. Previous research includes youth studies (drug and alcohol issues, stop-and search); entry to the legal profession; ethnicity and entry to higher education.


King's College London
Franklin Wilkins Building
Room 1.16
Stamford Street
London SE1 8WA

Nearest train/tube station: Waterloo

Everyone is welcome to attend the LMSG meeting. The group has no formal membership.

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