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Keywords:

  • Protest suicide;
  • neo-Weberian archetypes

Abstract

Suicide as a form of political protest is a little studied social phenomenon that cannot be dismissed simply as being irrational or patholognomic. We consider protest suicide to be a meaningful social action as purposive political act intended to change oppressive policies or practices. This paper synthesizes theoretical propositions associated with suicide in general, and protest suicide in particular, so as to construct a general explanatory model of protest suicide as a social phenomenon. Then, it analyzes protest suicide as a meaningful social action. People considering protest suicide have to discern the logic of the situation in which such action is to take place. This involves answering two fundamental questions: Is suicide an acceptable course of social action? Is the envisaged protest suicide likely to achieve their hopes, aspirations and goals? How these questions are answered gives rise to a set of protest suicide archetypes. Our analysis generates a more sophisticated understanding of the potential reasons for, and motivations behind, protest suicide as a social phenomenon.