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Lithuania has the highest global suicide rate at 40.2/100,000, according to the international suicide statistics provided by WHO (2004). Lithuania's suicide rate is over 2.5 times more than the global average. The top five countries in terms of suicide rate are Lithuania, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Hungary (Ibid). All of these countries were previously under the Soviet Union's control from the end of World War II to the end of the Cold War in 1989. Lithuania has not always been at the top of the rankings for global suicide rates. Lithuania's suicide rate spiked almost 20 percent during the years of 1990-1995, which happened to be when Lithuania was transitioning from being a previous communist nation (Ibid). Sociological research towards this specific phenomenon has been insufficient. This research paper delves into the economic, political, and social transition in Lithuania after gaining independence from the Soviet Union to determine whether it may have had a correlation to the dramatic increase of the suicide rate in Lithuania. In order to examine suicide at a macro-level, sociological theory, such as Durkheim's, can be applied to study suicide in terms of the relationships between a society and its individuals. In order to understand why so many people are committing suicide in a given time period, this paper researches the relevant facets of society that may negatively affect its individuals in terms of committing suicide. Lithuania's unemployment rate, crime rate, divorce rate, alcoholism rates, and religious following are discussed to assess the correlation with a disintegrated and deregulated Lithuanian society during the 1990s. Findings suggest there is a relationship between Lithuanian society and Durkheim's concepts of integration and regulation, one that may explain the dramatic increase in the suicide rate during this time period.
Kaminski, Kyle, "The Consequence of Freedom: A Sociological Analysis of the Suicide Epidemic in Luthuania" (2014). Honors Theses. 2490.
Honors Thesis-Open Access