Moral Intuitions and Suicide Risk

Combining insights from Moral Foundations Theory and the Durkheimian tradition, we examine the effects of moral intuitions on suicide risk. We argue that moral intuitions constitute amoral-regulative force that individuals bring with them into a range of socially structured settings and that influence their behavior independent of the structural forces in play in those settings. Focusing on Iceland, an economically advanced country with a largely secular and individualistic culture, and using data from a national sample of youth between the ages of 16 and 21 (N = 10,710), we find that group-oriented (binding) moral intuitions are associated with lower suicide risk while individual-oriented (individualizing) moral intuitions are associated with higher suicide risk. We also find an unexpected (non-linear) protective effect among respondents with strong individualizing moral intuitions, and some evidence that the effects of individualizing moral intuitions on suicide risk are conditioned by involvement in socially integrative relationships. Overall, our results suggest that the sociological study of suicide would be meaningfully improved by incorporating moral intuitions into the model.



Work Title Moral Intuitions and Suicide Risk
Subtitle Results from a National Sample of Icelandic Youth
Open Access
  1. Eric Silver
  2. Jasmine R. Silver
  3. Inga Dora Sigfusdottir
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Social Forces
Publication Date June 1, 2021
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited July 19, 2022




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Silver-Silver-Sigfusdottir_2020_Moral_Intuitions_and_Suicide_Risk.pdf
  • Added Creator Eric Silver
  • Added Creator Jasmine R. Silver
  • Added Creator Inga Dora Sigfusdottir
  • Published