Social disruption and increasing inequalities in wealth can be considered main recent determinants; however, causal processes, shaped decades before recent reforms, also contribute to this widening gap.
Political and economic upheaval, increasing poverty, and alcohol consumption can be considered the main underlying causes of the widening ethnic mortality gap.
The suicide panorama is not static but continually changing with the development of society. In this article changes in suicide rates and attitudes towards suicide in Sweden from pre-modern to modern time are described, with suicidal murders as an interesting transitional form. The rates of homicide have decreased, while those of suicide have increased. Changes in attitudes towards suicide have reached different groups in society at different times, leading to very heterogeneous suicide patterns. With increasing social homogeneity there now seems to exist a tendency back towards larger homogeneity of suicide as well. In order to develop suicide prevention into a vital branch of public-health services humanistic, linguistic and social research in suicidology must be encouraged.
Having investigated suicide mortality among the 250,000 immigrant Finns in Sweden ("Finnish Swedes") 1982-1992, we have found it to be very high for both sexes. The mean overall rate was 48.2/100,000 a year--2.0 times the Swedish rate and 1.6 times the Finnish. Suicide mortality has, moreover, increased among women. A comparison of naturalized Finns (those who have become Swedish citizens) with those who have remained Finnish citizens does not demonstrate any conclusive relationship between naturalization and suicide for the group as a whole. In most male groups, those who had taken Swedish citizenship had clearly lower rates than those who had not. For most female groups, however, there was a reverse tendency. Further monitoring of the development of suicide mortality in the group is needed.
Pitirim Sorokin (1889-1968) was one of the greatest sociologists of the twentieth century. Born in north-eastern Russia, he was forced into exile in 1922. The truth about his deep involvement in the social upheavals in Russia at the time was long suppressed in his own country, as were his sociological works in Russian.
As Russia now once again takes up its place in the international academic community, the interest in Sorokin’s work and life is growing. In the present volume his previously unknown essay on suicide is reprinted in Russian as well as in English translation and analysed by Ilkka Henrik Mäkinen, while Sorokin's intellectual and political development before his exile is presented by Andrew Stickley.