major suicide prevention organizations often posit connectedness as an

Major suicide prevention organizations often posit

This preview shows page 17 - 19 out of 23 pages.

major suicide prevention organizations often posit connectedness as an exclusively posi- tive social force that should be viewed as an important tool for suicide prevention. Although connectedness can protect against suicide in many circumstances (Wray et al. 2011), research also demonstrates that exces- sive amounts of social connectedness can cause the “exclusion of outsiders, excess claims on group members, [and] restrictions on individual freedoms” among other poten- tial negative effects (Portes 1998:15). Poplar Grove illustrates how, if researchers and prac- titioners neglect potential negative aspects of connectedness—like those noted in our study—opportunities for effective prevention strategies might be missed.
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894 American Sociological Review 81(5) Future Directions In addition to offering what we believe is a compelling social-psychological reformulation of Durkheim that is useful for suicide preven- tion, our case study highlights that the task of modernizing Durkheim and revitalizing the sociology of suicide is far from complete. To that end, our study raises several important theoretical questions for future research. First, if we are to fully engage Durkheim on a social- psychological level, future research should delve further into the roles that identity pro- cesses, role-status positions, social stigma, and status disruption play in suicide. For example, not every member of a community internalizes cultural directives to the same extent. Varia- tions in how wrapped up an individual’s iden- tity is with community expectations could shape how detrimental (or protective) the com- munity is for that person. Similarly, individu- als’ position in social networks—based on their prestige or centrality—may condition their ability to navigate social pressure, and consequently, their vulnerability to suicide. Second, given the important role emotions play in suicide and in the acquisition and internalization of behaviors and attitudes, future research should consider the varied emotional dynamics sustaining the link between suicide and Durkheim’s integration and regulation (Abrutyn and Mueller 2014b). Cognitive appraisals like depression or hope- lessness are important, but they involve more than an individual’s psyche; rather, they are constructed in part by referencing the socio- cultural contexts of daily life. Delving deeper into the emotional anguish that youth in Pop- lar Grove feel at the prospect of failure will likely add another layer to our understanding. This effort may provide additional insights into how to disrupt harmful patterns, and also shift some attention from internal cognitive evaluations to the sociological dynamics of emotions. One benefit of advancing our abil- ity to identify problematic emotional currents within social groups is that in our age of big data and computational social science, we could conceivably harness social media to warn us of impending suicide clusters.
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  • Summer '17
  • Christian Caron
  • Sociology, Anna S. Mueller

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