Suicide is a serious public health issue with increasing rates. The state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, has a history of high mortality rates, mainly in regions colonized by German populations. The present investigation is a social case study, whose information was obtained through narratives of 14 informers from the health, agriculture, justice, public safety, social communication and education fields. The decisive factors for suicide reported by the informers were the German culture, protestant ethics and suffering at work, which affects family farmers who grow tobacco. The reflections of the interviewees point to suicide as a resource used in the culture of people who descend from German populations to cope with difficulties, which persists as a consequence of the introduction of capitalism in the countryside and the subordination of producers to the tobacco industry.
Suicide; Work; Protestant ethics; German culture