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Does Violence toward Others Affect Violence toward Oneself? Examining the Direct and Moderating Effects of Violence on Suicidal Behavior

Gregory M. Zimmerman
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/sp.2013.60.3.357 357-382 First published online: 1 August 2013


Although interpersonal violence and suicide are two of the leading causes of death among young Americans, analyses focusing simultaneously on violence and suicide in sociological inquiry are sparse. Analyses also tend to be limited by their focus on either the individual-level predictors of suicidal behaviors or the aggregate-level predictors of suicide rates, despite the recognition that psychological and sociological forces contribute independently as well as interactively to facilitate suicide. To address these issues, I use data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) to examine the direct and moderating effects of individual- and neighborhood-level violence on attempted suicide. Estimates from hierarchical logistic regression models indicate that individual acts of violent aggression, but not neighborhood levels of violence, increase the likelihood of attempting suicide. Furthermore, the well-established relationship between depression and attempted suicide is conditioned by individual- and neighborhood-level violence, such that the effect of depression is (1) amplified for individuals living in neighborhoods characterized by violence and (2) attenuated for individuals engaging in violent behavior. Finally, the combined effect of neighborhood violence and individual violent aggression on the depression/suicide relationship is greater than the partial moderating effects of these variables.

  • contextual effects
  • multilevel analysis
  • neighborhoods
  • person-context interactions
  • suicide
  • violence

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