Bringing Anomie Back In: Exceptional Events and Excess Suicide

Mark Anthony Hoffman, Peter S. Bearman

Sociological Science, April 20, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a10

In this article we show that imitation is not the mechanism behind the observed increase in suicides subsequent to highly publicized celebrity suicides. Instead, we show that most celebrity suicides are exceptional events and because of that have similar effects on the daily suicide rate as other exciting events. This finding suggests that Durkheim was right in rejecting the Tardean hypothesis that imitation is an operative mechanism and provides substantial support for the competing hypothesis that disruptive and/or exciting events (whether favorable or unfavorable) induce anomie and with it suicide.
Mark Anthony Hoffman: Department of Sociology, Columbia University.  Email:

Peter S. Bearman: Department of Sociology, Columbia University.   Email:

  • Citation: Hoffman, Mark A., and Peter S. Bearman. 2015. “Bringing Anomie Back In: Exceptional Events and Excess Suicide.” Sociological Science 2: 186-210.
  • Received: November 12, 2014
  • Accepted: November 27, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Gabriel Rossman
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a10

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