Seth Abrutyn

About Seth Abrutyn

Seth Abrutyn is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Memphis. As a general sociological theorist, his interests include sociocultural evolution, institutions, religion, social psychology, and emotions. In essence, his work emphasizes synthesizing disparate theories in order to make more robust and comprehensive theoretical principles. This larger project has culminated in several journal articles and, recently, a book titled Revisiting Institutionalism in Sociology. In addition to his more general concerns, he has recently become engaged in theoretical and empirical work aimed at extending and reformulating Durkheim’s work on suicide; papers of which have appeared in American Sociological Review, Sociological Forum, and, soon, in Sociological Theory.

Are Suicidal Behaviors Contagious in Adolescents?

It has become increasingly obvious that suicide attempts and deaths have both social and psychological causes. Though people in general are more familiar with the idea that psychological problems, such as depression, can put someone at risk of suicide, exposure to messages about suicide through our personal relationships or through the media also can increase an individual’s vulnerability to attempting suicide by making suicide seem like more of an option. Comedian Robin Williams’ suicide – and comments made online about his tragic passing and amazing life - illustrated the tension between our seemingly-innate desire to talk about and make sense of why people take their own life and the danger that irresponsible reporting or romanticizing comments may pose. Continue reading