Young men are often considered to be at particular risk of suicide, but such claims are partial and potentially misleading. Drawing on official statistics and an innovative, qualitatively driven, mixed method sociological autopsy of individual suicides, the authors of this paper argue that the vulnerability of ‘young’ men to suicide is often exaggerated and that insufficient attention is paid to the diverse social circumstances of suicidal men and women across the life course. Detailed analysis of 100 case files selected from a single coroner's office in the UK reveals that patterns of suicide can be seen to map on to conventional features of a socially structured life course, with young people in crisis, mid-life gendered patterns of work and family and older people in decline. Particular attention is drawn to suicide among those in mid-life and to the role of the social bond, especially in the form of attachment. Relationship breakdown is considered in some detail because it is central to understanding the demography of suicide and the significance of social bonds
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