Gambling and social background in cases of suicide

Thursday, 24 November, 2022 - 13:20 to 14:50


Previous research suggests that there is a link between problem gambling and suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and suicides. Suicidal ideation is highly prevalent among help-seeking gamblers and people with problem gambling have a higher suicide mortality. In addition to other comorbid mental health problems, gambling-related suicidality is often preceded by severe financial difficulties and debts, and various psychological and social problems seem to cumulate before suicide. Yet, there is paucity of literature on the social aspects of gambling suicides.

The presentation will outline a research design to explore police investigation documents on cases of suicide, which contain any mention about gambling (not only problem gambling). In Finland, every death that takes place in unclear conditions – such as suicides - is routinely investigated by the police. The data will be collected by searching the police information system using gambling-related headwords and will be analysed using qualitative content analysis. Our focus is on the social setting of the events as described in the police investigation documents.

Preliminary findings from the data will be presented. Developed by Jie Zhang on the basis of Robert Agnew’s general strain theory, the strain theory of suicide will provide theoretical framework for the study. Gambling is discussed in relation to its’ four sources of strain: value strain, aspiration strain, deprivation strain and coping strain.

In Finland, possible links between suicidality and gambling behaviour are uncharted to date. Our approach widens the perspective from problem gambling to social aspects and gambling in more general. As such, the study not only contributes to understanding severe gambling harms more in depth, but also supports suicide-prevention.




Part of session