The History of Suicide Prevention in Finland, 1860s–2010s
As with many Western Countries, suicide came under scientific scrutiny in Finland during the nineteenth century. During the first 100 years of Finnish suicide research (1860s–1950s), suicide, though secularised and medicalised, was still regarded as a problem that mostly concerned abnormal individuals, not the mainstream of Finnish society. The inclusion of degeneration theories in psychiatry and criminology upheld this kind of presumption well into the twentieth century. By the 1970s, however, there was an important shift in the Finnish suicide discourse. Suicide became recognised as a public health problem, and research was redirected to identify the causes of suicide and to focus on suicide prevention. This chapter analyses the shift of focus in suicide research especially from the point of view of mounting welfare state discourse and the rise to prominence of social psychiatry in 1970s Finland.