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Advisory Committee Chair

William Cockerham

Advisory Committee Members

John Bolland

Casey Borch

Susan Davies

Gail Wallace

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2010

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Recognizing the considerable risk of suicidal behavior experienced by the adolescent population, the significant impact of suicide as the cause of death among adolescents, and the reported increasing rates of suicidal behavior among minority populations, there is a growing need for social research regarding the phenomenon. The current study proposes that suicidal behavior among adolescents residing within areas of extreme disadvantage is a direct result of the individual's acquisition of social capital, referred to as `social capital of the disadvantaged.' It is argued that, due to the nature and limited `reach' of the networks developed by teenagers, the resources acquired and utilized further entrench the adolescent within the community and; therefore, reinforce the factors that lead to suicidal ideation and suicide attempt within the population of interest. Though the results fail to provide conclusive support to the proposed theory, they do suggest that the individual's perception of social support and social context have an important impact on the incidence of suicidal behavior among low-income adolescents. Further research, with more appropriate measures of social capital, should be undertaken to investigate whether there is any validity to the existence of a `social capital of the disadvantaged.'

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