A Common Explanation of the Changing Age Distributions of Suicide and Homicide in the United States: 1930 to 2000

Bob O'Brien, University of Oregon
Jean Stockard, University of Oregon

This paper addresses shifts in the age distributions of homicide deaths and suicides in the United States from 1930 to 2000. The data are disaggregated by race (white non-white) and sex. It is shown that shifts in the age distributions of suicide and homicide deaths over this period are closely related. Two characteristics of birth cohorts explain much of this relationship. We set our work within a Durkhemian framework and argue, contrary to Durkheim, but in agreement with most criminologists, that both suicide and homicide are positively related to "egoism." The paper provides a bridge between the work of suicidologists and criminologists.

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Updated 05/20/2006