Suicide mortality has increased in connection with modernisation in Russia
8 April 2013
Societal modernisation has importance for the high suicide rates in contemporary Russia. But also alcohol consumption seems to have a remarkably stable importance. This is shown by sociologist Tanya Jukkala who is defending her doctoral thesis at Uppsala University on April 12.
Suicide mortality in Russia is among the highest in the world and its development over the second half of the 20th century has been very dramatic. Among other things it increased greatly after the fall of the Soviet Union. Tanya Jukkala, situated at Södertörn University, has studied the development in suicide mortality in Russia over a period of 140 years with the aim of reaching a better understanding of the high frequency of suicide in contemporary Russia.
The results indicate that suicide mortality in Russia has increased at least 11-fold over the last 140 years. During the last decades suicide mortality has also increased more among men relative to women (more than five men per woman), and among younger age groups relative to older age groups.
In her analysis Tanya Jukkala associates the increase in suicide over the period with Russia’s modernisation. She points at similar increases in suicide during modernisation in the West during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Also the relative increases in suicide among men and younger age groups correspond to developments seen in the West over the latter half of the 20th century, Jukkala argues.
“Modernisation implies that individuals need to participate in an increasing number of social contexts. They need to meet a variety of social expectations. This means an increased pressure on individuals, which in extreme cases can lead an individual to choose suicide as a way to escape such demands and norms, to resign from all kinds of social participation”, she says.
“Another interesting result is that alcohol consumption has had a consequent aggravating effect on suicide mortality. Such constant relationships over a long time period are unusual and point at a particular importance of Russian alcohol culture when it comes to understanding suicide mortality in Russia.”