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Suicide has an important place in the history of sociology, because of Durkheim's famous study and the debates that have followed since it was published more than a century ago. The sociological study of suicide remains a powerful illustration of competing paradigms. The bold aim of this book is to make a new contribution to this classic sociological debate. The authors highlight the importance of qualitatively-driven, mixed methods sociological research on individual suicides, coining the term 'sociological autopsy' to describe their ESRC-funded study of 100 suicide case files. They illustrate how qualitative and quantitative data can be combined; and navigate the dual paradigms of objectivism and constructionism, examining what can be known about suicidal lives and also taking a critical stance on the knowledge itself. Substantive themes developed in the book include the gendered character of suicidal behaviour, the role of the life-course and the importance of social bonds, especially intimate relationships.

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