Community structural instability, anomie, imitation and adolescent suicidal behavior

Thorolfur Thorlindsson*, Jón Gunnar Bernburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The current study examines the contextual effects of community structural characteristics, as well as the mediating role of key social mechanisms, on youth suicidal behavior in Iceland. We argue that the contextual influence of community structural instability on youth suicidal behavior should be mediated by weak attachment to social norms and values (anomie), and contact with suicidal others (suggestion-imitation). The data comes from a national survey of 14-16 years old adolescents. Valid questionnaires were obtained from 7018 students (response rate about 87%). The findings show that the community level of residential mobility has a positive, contextual effect on adolescent suicidal behavior. The findings also indicate that the contextual effect of residential mobility is mediated by both anomie and suggestion-imitation. The findings offer the possibility to identify communities that carry a substantial risk for adolescent suicide as well as the mechanisms that mediate the influence of community structural characteristics on adolescent risk behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-245
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009

Other keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Anomie
  • Community context
  • Imitation
  • Suicidal behaviour


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