Understanding Alcoholism in Young Adults Using Durkheim's Theory of Suicide

Wesley L. James, University of Memphis
Anna S. Mueller, University of Memphis
Seth Abrutyn, University of Memphis

Sociologists have generally accepted Durkhiem's theory of suicide and, importantly, his rejection of other factors like Tarde's imitation thesis. More recent research has demonstrated a positive association between suicide suggestion and spikes in suicide rates, particularly for adolescents (Phillips 1974; Stack 1987, 2003, 2005). There is evidence to suggest being well integrated and regulated - e.g., a caring family, religious affiliation and attendance, etc. - may help mitigate or protect adolescents against the effects of suicide suggestion. Our research question asks whether Durkheimian effects can protect against other serious risk behaviors that, in some ways, simulate suicide through the process of harmful health behaviors. Our research investigates whether the role social regulation and integration serve as protective factors preventing alcoholism in young adults. Waves I, III and IV of the Add Health data are employed to test these research questions.

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Presented in Poster Session 4