In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Suicide

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Textbooks
  • Suicide Myths and Misconceptions

Psychology Suicide
Thomas E. Joiner, Matthew S. Michaels, Carol Chu, Jennifer M. Buchman-Schmitt
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 October 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 October 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0116


Suicidology is a modern movement that encompasses scholarly work on suicide, intervention, and prevention efforts, as well as advocacy. Although non-scholarly efforts are an essential part of the movement, scholarly work will be the exclusive focus of this bibliography. Historically, suicide has been discussed as a philosophical and sociological topic, and even in ancient times was discussed as a medical topic. Suicide is now studied within the domains of psychiatry, psychology, sociology, and related disciplines. Interdisciplinary research on biological correlates of suicide represents an emerging focus. The major correlates of suicide include mental disorders, other psychological and behavioral issues, and cultural factors. The largest portion of early 21st century scholarly work on suicide can be viewed as falling into two categories: risk assessment/treatment and theory.

General Overviews

As discussed in Minois 2001, suicide has been a part of society since early civilizations. Most of the scholarly work on suicide has been much more recent, however. Papadimitriou, et al. 2007 discusses views on suicide from Antiquity. Hume 2004 is a treatise (originally published in 1783) on the ethics of suicide and represents an early philosophical work on suicide. Early scientific work on suicide includes Morselli 1882, an early scientific treatise of suicide, and Durkheim 1951, which is a sociological theory of suicide (originally published in 1897), with some empirical work still being done on his theory even today. In the United States, Shneidman and Farberow 1957 is an informative resource for the historical founding of crisis centers. Spencer-Thomas and Jahn 2012 discusses the history of suicide research, prevention, and major theories of suicide. Supiano 2012 discusses efforts to assist those who have lost loved ones to suicide. Heron 2012 is a resource for recent statistics on suicide in the United States.

  • Durkheim, Emile. 1951. Suicide: A study in sociology. New York: Free Press.

    Originally published in 1897. Durkheim posited two societal-level variables, integration and regulation, and discussed subtypes of suicide as being variants of the two variables. Egoistic suicide and altruistic suicide were conceptualized as being due to a lack of or excess of integration (respectively). Anomic suicide and fatalistic suicide resulted from under—or over—regulation (respectively).

  • Heron, Melonie. 2012. Deaths: Leading causes for 2009. National Vital Statistics Reports 61:1–96.

    Provides a number of statistics about suicide and is an excellent resource for facts about suicide in the United States. It is worthwhile to note that this report is provided annually, although the data analyzed is approximately three years behind the publication date.

  • Hume, David. 2004. Essays on suicide and the immortality of the soul. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger.

    Originally published in 1783. These philosophical essays on suicide were initially printed with a larger collection of essays and were highly controversial at the time. The essays proved so controversial, in fact, that they were removed from their printed copies.

  • Minois, Georges. 2001. History of suicide: Voluntary death in Western culture. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

    This study of the cultural aspects of suicide ranges from ancient Greek and Roman societies through the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Romantic periods. The author views the transition of suicide from a heroic to a stigmatized act as a by-product of Christian influences and cites a variety of historical texts.

  • Morselli, Enrico. 1882. Suicide: An essay on comparative moral statistics. New York: D. Appleton.

    Morselli’s treatise is considered to be one of the earliest scientific attempts at understanding suicide. His work predates Durkheim’s and involved major advances in methodology and theory beyond any of the (primarily philosophical) work that predated it. Text available online.

  • Papadimitriou, John, Panayiotis Skiadas, Constantinos Mavrantonis, Vassilis Polimeropoulos, Dimitris Papadimitriou, and Kyriaki Papacostas. 2007. Euthanasia and suicide in Antiquity: Viewpoint of the dramatists and philosophers. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 100:25–28.

    DOI: 10.1258/jrsm.100.1.25

    Examines historical views on euthanasia and suicide over the past 3,000 years. Philosophical views from Ancient Greece are a primary focus. Philosophical opposition to suicide by Plato, Aristotle, and others is discussed.

  • Shneidman, Edwin, and Norman Farberow, eds. 1957. Clues to suicide. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    This study of suicide notes includes an in-depth analysis of the notes with contributions from other authors.

  • Spencer-Thomas, Sally, and Danielle Jahn. 2012. Tracking a movement: U.S. milestones in suicide prevention. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior 42:78–85.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1943-278X.2011.00072.x

    Examines the major scholarly influences with regard to the relatively short history of suicidology in the United States. The authors rank the theories of Shneidman, Durkheim, and Joiner as the most influential theoretical frameworks for the scientific study of suicide.

  • Supiano, Katherine. 2012. Sense-making in suicide survivorship: A qualitative study of the effect of grief support group participation. Journal of Loss and Trauma 17:489–507.

    DOI: 10.1080/15325024.2012.665298

    A portion of the suicidology movement focuses on providing support for survivors of suicide (i.e., those who have lost a loved one to suicide). Further resources on this topic are available at Because these efforts are primarily advocacy and support-group based (rather than scholarly) this topic is not discussed in further depth in this bibliography.

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