TRAMES 4, 1, 1997

Jüri Allik and Anu Realo. Psyhchological and cultural mechanisms of suitside

University of Tartu


At the cultural level, persistent associations exist between three groups of psychological variables, individualism-collectivism, locus of control, and subjective well-being, and the suicide rate. These associations may be opposite to what would be expected of purely individual-level analysis. There are several forms of suicide which are controlled by different social and cultural factors: individualism and the perceived locus of control, which share only an insignificant amount of the common variance, can nevertheless have strong and independent correlations with the suicide rate. We found that regarding the suicide rate, a moderate individualism is more dangerous than an extreme one; the external locus of control is a risk factor, especially in the association with the low individualism; and satisfaction with different aspects of life has an opposite effect on the suicide rate: men’s satisfaction with finances and women’s satisfaction with family increases suicide rate but women’s satisfaction with finances and themselves decreases it. These findings suggest that the sociological theory of suicide needs to be supplemented by both psychological and cultural theories in order to explain through which psychological and cultural mechanisms the mind of an individual is programmed.

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