VOLUME 5 (2003) - ISSUE 9 (SUMMER)

The Increasing incidence of suicide: Economic Development, Individualism, and Social Integration

by Greg SCOTT, Frank DEANE and Joseph CIARROCHI


Despite significant improvement in physical health, suicide continues to represent a significant burden in the economically advanced countries. Given that the causes of suicide are not fully known, and that suicide cannot be predicted nor prevented at the individual level, national suicide rates might best be reduced by reducing the overall number of people exposed to suicide risk factors. However, economic development promotes individualism and low social integration, both of which increase suicide risk. For example, high female labor force participation and divorce, indicative of low social integration, are associated with higher suicide rates. Similarly, there appear to be social and psychological disadvantages in having strong individualistic values, particularly within individualistic cultures. For example, individualists have smaller and less satisfying social support networks, report more feelings of hopelessness, and are more likely to think about suicide. As such, economic development may actually promote rather than decrease suicide risk, a function of excessive individualism and low social integration, thus contributing to higher national suicide rates in the economically advanced countries.


Suicide - Suicide risk - Individualism - Collectivism - Values


Greg I. SCOTT obtained his Bachelor of Psychology (Honors) from the University of Wollongong in 2000. He is currently a PhD scholar at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. His research interests include factors contributing to depression and suicide, the role of cultural values in promoting positive mental health outcomes, and the interface between social and psychological change.

Joseph V. CIARROCHI  obtained his PhD in Psychology from the University of Pittsbugh, PA, in 1997. He is currently a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. His research interests include the role of emotional intelligence in dealing with life problems and stress, factors contributing to depression and suicide, and critical evaluation of personality and individual differences measures.

Frank P. DEANE obtained his PhD in Psychology from Massey University, New Zealand in 1992. He is a Professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, and a Director of the Illawarra Institute for Mental Health. His research interests include understanding help-seeking from professional and non-professional sources when psychologically distressed or suicidal, mental health triage, assessment and treatment of driving fears, and the role played by homework in psychological interventions.


Author Name (Year), “Title”, in: The International Scope Review, Volume Number, Issue Number, TSCF Editions, Brussels.


This contribution is a chapter of the book edited by Patrick HUNOUT, The Erosion of the Social Link in the Economically Advanced Countries.


All work published in The International Scope Review is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any manner or in any medium – unless written consent is given by The Social Capital Foundation represented by its President, unless the author’s name and the one of The International Scope Review as the first publication medium appear on the work or the excerpt, and unless no charge is made for the copy containing the work or excerpt.

Any demands for obtaining consent for reproduction should be sent to sg@socialcapital.is


get_acrobat_reader.gif (712 bytes)

This is a PDF document.You may need  Acrobat Plugin to view it.