Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Dunaway, R. Gregory

Committee Member

Cossman, S. Jeralynn

Committee Member

Hempel, M. Lynn

Committee Member

Blanchard, C. Troy

Committee Member

Xu, Xiaohe

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work


Suicide and suicidal behavior affect individuals of all ages, genders, races and religious groups in all countries, representing an important social issue. The major risk factor associated with suicide is depression. However, in some instances, suicide is not preceded by warning signs of mental disorders. Variations in the sociopolitical structures in the communities in U.S. may hold the explanation of variations on suicide rates. The objective of this study is to understand how suicide relates with variations in the community structure. Some specific socio-structural elements of a community have the potential to protect against distress by protecting individuals’ socio-psychological health. Specifically, variations in structural pluralism affect a community’s welfare because of the potential presence of dense networks of associations that create problem-solving capacity for the community. The problem solving capacity of communities results from pluralistic political structures with dense networks of associations, advocating civic welfare. As one of the consequences of influence on community’s welfare, the structural pluralism theory is tested here as a direct protection again suicide. To address this objective, county-level data are needed. Several data sources will be used to provide information essential for the analysis in this study. The suicide rates will be calculated from the Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics’ Compressed Mortality File for the years of 1998-2002. To provide information on structural pluralism, data from the 2000 County Business Patterns will be used. The 2000 Census data and the Religious Congregations and Membership Study 2000 will be used to provide information on demographic characteristics.