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Beth Tracton

Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Rural Sociology

First Advisor

Don Arwood


As the first century of a Durkheimian perspective on suicide comes to a close, much can be learned not only from his accomplishments, but also his shortcomings. This research project drew upon both Durkheim's original work as well as all those works that followed. It was found that the majority of the current literature still supports the social integration-suicide relationship. As social integration rests as the key component to understanding suicide, a discussion of the two main types of societies, urban and rural, is presented. There may be a difference because the factors associated with suicide rates in urban settings may not be associated with suicide rates in rural settings, or at least not in the same ways. The research question, then, asks what are the social factors associated with county suicide rates? Are these factors the same for rural, semi-urban, and urban counties? A random sample of the counties in Minnesota and Iowa serves as the population studied. This sample is further divided into three sub-samples, urban, semi-urban and rural. This was done as a replication of the Kowalski, Faupel and Starr (1987) study of all of the counties in the United States. While the research literature finds the percent of people living alone and the divorce rate as the two clearest indicators of changes in the suicide rate, the two variables found to correlate with the county suicide rate were the divorce rate and the rate of net migration. These correlations were found in the sample as a whole and in the rural subsample. This may indicate that the population possesses [sic] characteristics more like that of the rural commuinities [sic] than the urban. No variables were found to correlate with the county suicide rate in the semi-urban and urban sub-samples.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Suicide -- Minnesota -- Sociological aspects
Suicide -- Iowa -- Sociological aspects




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