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History, Definition

Suicidology is recognized as "scientific study of suicide".

This de finition was proposed by Edwin S. Shneidman, co-founder with Norman Farberow of the Suicide Prevention Center, Los Angeles (1958), during the first Suicidology National Conference of AAS - American Association of Suicidology, in May 1968, Chicago. 2

             The objective was simple : suicide prevention will progress only with awarness for scientific research of suicide phenomenon.

Over the years, "Suicidology" had different definitions such as "scientific study of the phenomenon suicide" (1976), "study of man suicide" (1993) 4 & 5… Today, Suicidology is still the "scientific study of suicide" including the scientific study of self destructive behaviors.

One can understand that Suicidology is part of Human Sciences with a contemporary interdisciplinary aspect.

            In France, the term "Suicidologie" was mentionned for the first time in 1969 in a Forum of Medical Journal (Concours Médical) 1 when was announced the creation of GEPS - Groupement d’Étude et de Prévention du Suicide. It was important to have a French association of Suicidology following the creation of AAS (1968). Bur Pr Pierre Pichot, co-founding President, insisted on keeping the word "prevention" which could not be dissociated from the scientific study of suicide. GEPS was officially created in March 1969 and is still active.

In 1985, the National Academy of Medecine officially admitted the term following a lecture given by Pr Jean-Pierre Soubrier at the time of the dispute of the authorized publication of the book "Suicide, How to make it" 3.

The National Academy of Medecine demanded to the French Government the creation of a law against provocation to suicide. The law was voted in 1987 and included in the Penal Code.


  • References available at CRES :

1- SOUBRIER, Jean-Pierre. Vers une Suicidologie ? Forum. En collaboration avec C. Koupernik et M. Gourevitch. Concours Médical, 1969, p. 3051-3057.

2- SHNEIDMAN, Edwin S. On the nature on suicideA Special Commemorative Edition of the 1968 Chicago Reconvening of the 1910 Vienna Discussion on Youth Suicide. Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2ème éditions, 1973, 99 p.

3- SOUBRIER, Jean-Pierre. La Prévention du Suicide est-elle encore possible depuis la publication autorisée d'un livre intitulé : Suicide mode d'emploi - Histoire - Technique - Actualité. In Bulletin de l’Académie Nationale de Médecine, 1984, 168, n°12, p. 40-46 - Séance du 10 janvier 1984. Annual Award 1985.

4- SHNEIDMAN, Edwin S. Suicide as a Psychache. Jason Aronson Inc., 1993.

5- MARRIS, Ronald. The Evolution of Suicidology. In Suicidology : Essays in honor of Edwin S. Shneidman. A. Leenars, Editeur. Jason Aronson Inc., 1993, Part 1, Chap. 1, p. 3-21.

6- SOUBRIER, Jean-Pierre. Et si nous parlions de l’impact de la Suicidologie ? Communication au 16ème Congrès de IASP, Montréal, 1993. In Bulletin de liaison du GEPS, nov. 1993, vol. 12, n°1, p. 8-13.

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by Dr. Radut