Regular social interaction can help prevent suicidal thoughts, say two UWindsor sociology professors.
“There is a widespread consensus that suicide and the prevalence of thoughts about suicide in the population are worrisome problems in Canadian society,” Ronjon Paul Datta and Reza Nakhaie write in an article published in the Canadian Review of Sociology. “This makes suicide and suicidal ideation a pathological social fact characterized by its generality throughout society, one that cannot be reduced to individual psychopathology.”
Using publicly available survey data, the authors explore whether social support and a sense of belonging — factors often conflated — affect suicide ideation differently. Their findings? A higher level of social support had the largest effect, while that of a sense of belonging disappeared once measures of social support are accounted for.
In addition, they showed that immigrants, racialized, and food-insecure Canadians were significantly more prone to suicidal ideations than their counterparts. However, higher social support among the former groups helped decrease their level of suicidal ideation. Drs. Datta and Nakhaie stressed that policy makers must grasp that socially healthy and vibrant citizenship depends on social support, particularly among immigrants, racialized, and food-insecure Canadians.
Their analysis won recognition from the Canadian Sociological Association, which conferred its 2023 award for best journal article on their study, “Suicidal ideation and social integration in three Canadian provinces: The importance of social support and community belonging.”
In a citation, the awards committee wrote it was “especially impressed by the theoretical foundations of this study as well as its potential to appeal to a broad, interdisciplinary audience. It succeeds in reinforcing the value of sociological scholarship and sociology as a discipline by drawing from foundations, applied to contemporary social problems.”