Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The integrating capacity of social institutions on community organization and the consequential benefits of community cohesion are well-known, i.e. lower crime rates, better health outcomes, economic and social stability. Drawing on the civil society and civic community literatures, this study applies the theory of social capital to study of suicide. Rather than focus on individual level data, macro-level data are analyzed to determine the relationship between the social capital of an area and the prevalence of suicide. Negative binomial regression is used to examine U.S. counties of 100,000 residents or more (urban) and counties of 1,000 to 25,000 residents (rural) to determine the effect of six community social capital measures on race, gender, and age specific suicide rates. The results indicate much variation among social groups. Urban areas are found to be more responsive to community social capital than are rural areas, although not all social capital indicators had the effect of reducing suicide rates. In the initial analyses, bonding and bridging social capital are associated with reductions in suicide more often among whites, whereas only bonding social capital is associated with reductions in black suicide. Upon further analysis the theory of social capital garnered much more support once age was accounted for in the analyses. In urban counties, 3 of the 5 social capital indices are associated with reductions in suicide across social groups and age categories. However, in rural counties, this relationship is only maintained among rural whites.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

William B. Bankston



Included in

Sociology Commons