Since the completion of this text, J. Baechler’s Suicides, which makes an important contribution to the interpretative approach to suicide discussed in Chapter 6, has appeared in English translation (trans. B. Cooper, Blackwell, 1979). Baechler argues that we must begin with the assumption that ‘men make their own destinies’ and that suicidal actions must be seen as rational responses to life problems: not so much an end, but rather a means to an end. Suicide is thus defined as ‘all behaviour that seeks and finds the solution to an existential problem by making an attempt on the life of the subject’ (p. 11). For Baechler, the question, then, is: ‘what people seek what solutions to what problems by suicide? In this undertaking he adopts the approach advocated by Douglas: that is, examine the situated, or concrete, meanings of suicidal actions in order to reveal more general patterns, or types, of meaning.
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