Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry - Global Mental Health Speaker Series - Culture & Community Mental Health Speaker Series

Thursday, December 14, 2023 15:00to17:00

The Social Roots of High School Suicide Clusters  by Seth Abrutyn, PhD, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Abrutyn is a leading expert on youth suicide as well as a general sociologist whose research rests at the intersection of mental health, emotions, social psychology, and culture, and which has won several national awards. His overarching goals as a social scientist are to merge sociological theory with the public imagination in hopes of making accessible sociological tools in the service of solving social problems.

Hybrid event: Ludmer building, room #138 / Zoom registration


Though the causes of suicide are complex, suicide prevention focuses disproportionately (1) on individual risk and protective factors and (2) on crisis intervention rather than on building social worlds where youth can thrive and get help when needed. This presentation will illustrate why neglecting the social roots of suicide and up-stream solutions is problematic by presenting empirical evidence from a school with a significant adolescent suicide problem (including recurring youth suicide clusters). This study will demonstrate that the social worlds youth inhabit matter greatly to youth’s experiences of psychological pain and their willingness to get help. These social worlds are also malleable and ripe for upstream interventions. After this presentation attendees will have a better understanding of (1) the social roots of suicide and (2) why they matter to both (a) youth suicide risk and (b) to building effective suicide prevention and postvention. Attendees will also gain insights into (3) actionable strategies to take back to their communities to begin conversations for change.

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