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November 24, 1989

Self-Destruction in the Promised Land: A Psychocultural Biology of American Suicide

JAMA. 1989;262(20):2933. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430200181050

The field of suicidology is not new. The term was first used in 1929 by W. A. Bonger, a Dutch professor. In the 1950s a growing interdisciplinary suicidology developed its own journals and national association. From the earliest scientific studies of suicide, we have been confronted with the fact that a skein of threads are woven together to produce the final dramatic outcome. It has long been observed that environmental factors, cultural or mentality features, and specific personality or intrapsychic factors are all to be observed as significant and interacting in the outcome. Within the past decade, an additional facet of the individual committing suicide has been elucidated in the form of biological factors manifested in biochemical changes in the central nervous system and genetic patterns.

In the present volume Kushner, a historian, has attempted, as his subtitle indicates, a synthesis of these disparate influences to produce a unified theory