Yo bfx, been a while. It's interesting that I'm finding your shoutout now-- I'm doing a masters in conflict resolution and one of my courses this semester is on violence, which includes violence directed at the self. In fact, right now I'm supposed to be writing up a definition of one of the types of violence we've read about and the one that's been rattling around in my brain is "structural violence". Structural violence is described as "embedded" rather than direct. So, for example a punch in the face would be direct, but not necessarily structural (though it could be).
To define structural violence we need to look at institutions such as culture or law. Structural violence is not attributable to a single person or organization and in fact, is often difficult to identify because it operates invisibly (or almost invisibly). Paul Farmer describes structural violence as:
We also have to pin down what "violence" is. One of the scholars whose work we've been referring to the most is a guy named Johan Galtung, who wrote a paper called Violence, Peace, and Peace Research which you can find here. Essentially, there are many distinctions we have to make in defining violence, but one facet of violence is depriving others of potential or opportunity. Galtung gives the example of tuberculosis in the 18th century, stating that death by tuberculosis at the time was unavoidable and so not violence, whereas because death by tuberculosis (with the exception of antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis) today is avoidable due to the availability of advanced medicine, is violence. The fact that medical care to prevent tuberculosis today is not available to everyone, is structural violence.
Back to suicide. The gist of it is, a guy named Durkheim came up with social-causation theories of suicide which are as follows: very low social integration-> egoistic suicide, very high social integration-> altruistic suicide, very low social regulation-> anomic suicide, very high social regulation-> fatalistic suicide. Of course, Durkheim came up with those theories in 1897 and was thinking of Western countries, but may still be useful in this case. Also this:
Anyway, from what little I've read, it seems like understanding structural violence is vital. If direct violence were the only form of violence we needed to worry about, then the Cold War should have "worked" and the threat of mutual annihilation should have been enough to create "peace" but as we can see, that hasn't happened.
As for my experience with higher education, well . . . higher education is political. As in politics, the issue of money places people in a zero-sum mindset, as does the delineation of discrete departments and fields of study. I'm really not sure what can be done about that, but then again, learning how to better manage systemic change is what I'm back in school for. It's wicked hard, so I hope it pays well.
Not to be flip, but thanks for this. I know it sounds trite, but I was having trouble doing my homework and I think I have a better handle on it now. Cheers.