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Suicide is a complex phenomenon determined by the interplay of an articulated network of factors including socio-economic factors which have a decisive role. This paper investigates the development of the modern conceptualization of suicide in Europe, its sociological understandings and its intertwinement with economic cycles throughout time.
MEDLINE, SCHOLAR, EMBASE using the keywords ‘socioeconomic factors AND suicide’; ‘economic cycles AND suicide’; ‘history AND suicide’ without timeframe limitations. Moreover, journal-by-journal search in journals of related areas was performed.
In total, 51 historical studies focusing on the subjects in European countries were included. Three main areas arose: (a) development of the conceptualization of suicide over time; (b) sociological understandings of suicide according to the structure of society and its economy of power; (c) economic theories explaining the intertwinement of economic cycles and suicides.
Suicide is a deeply human phenomenon inescapably linked to and grounded in society and economic cycles. Understandings from the past show the importance of accurate analysis of socio-economic contexts that shape societies together with man’s own sense of self in order to organize multi-layered tangible and intangible support strategies to better understand and prevent suicide in this day and age.
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