War, peace and suicide: The case of Northern Ireland

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Durkheim’s idea that war reduces suicide through greater social and political integration has been used to explain suicide trends during the Northern Ireland conflict and in the period of peace. The applicability of Durkheim is critically evaluated through a case study of suicide trends by age, gender and cause of death over a forty year period. The key finding is that the cohort of children and young people who grew up in the worst years of violence during the 1970s, have the highest and most rapidly increasing suicide rates, and account for the steep upward trend in suicide following the 1998 Agreement. Contrary to Durkheim, the recent rise in suicide involves a complex of social and psychological factors. These include the growth in social isolation, poor mental health arising from the experience of conflict, and the greater political stability of the past decade. The transition to peace means that externalised aggression is no longer socially approved. It becomes internalised instead.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-482
JournalInternational Sociology
Issue number4
Early online date16 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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