Jurupari committed suicide?: notes for suicide investigation in indigenous context

  • Maximiliano Loiola Ponte de Souza Fundação Oswaldo Cruz; Instituto Leônidas e Maria Deane
  • Luciane Ouriques Ferreira Fundação Oswaldo Cruz; Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública


Several evidences shows that in Brazil, suicide mortality rates of some indigenous people are significantly higher than national and regional rates. Furthermore, evidence points to the difficulties to transport biomedical categories to the indigenous societies, because they use specific symbolic references to understand the health-disease process and the death. The aim of this paper was to reflect on the difficulties to use the concept of suicide in the indigenous context, an important principle to explore this theme from a less ethnocentric way. The proposed way for this was to resort to the so-called “anthropological strangeness” of the biomedical concept of suicide. To this end, we did an analysis of an indigenous myth that is widespread in the Upper Rio Negro region, the myth of Jurupari, using three guiding questions: Jurupari wanted to die?; Jurupari died?; Who killed Jurupari? To answer these questions we used the ethnographic information about suicide among Brazilian indigenous. Through the performed analysis, the difficulty to transport the biomedical concept of suicide to the indigenous context was demonstrated. This was down when we presented: i) the amplification of the difficulties to speak of intentionality in this context, ii) the different indigenous conceptions about death and dying, iii) the complex correlation between suicide and homicide in native’s etiological systems. Finally, even in a preliminary way, some potential difficulties and possible ways to approach indigenous suicide by qualitative and quantitative strategies was presented.


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How to Cite
Souza, M., & Ferreira, L. (2014). Jurupari committed suicide?: notes for suicide investigation in indigenous context . Saúde E Sociedade, 23(3), 1064-1076. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0104-12902014000300026