Each of the 17 papers takes a specific cultural, ethnic, or national group as its focus; and the reader finds a balance of statistical and descriptive features of suicide around the world. The wide representation of individual nations, however, reflects the voluntary participants at the conference (no papers pertaining to Africa, the Soviet Union, or the People's Republic of China are present).
The work of Durkheim and his intellectual forebears made abundantly clear that cultural factors are significant in the pattern of suicide throughout the world. Suicidology is by no means a new field nor are the efforts at prevention any longer in the incipient phase. For example, Atkinson noted that every major town in Britain has a telephone emergency service for the suicidal individual who wants to communicate and receive some form of help. In general, however, the problem of the prevention of suicide has remained an elusive one,