In the past 20 years, the number of suicide attacks has multiplied, peaking in the mid-2000s. Since the "invention" of this method of violence in 1980s Lebanon, scholars have tried to identify the reasons for the adoption of and the motivation of the individuals who perpetrate them. While there appears to be a link between religion and suicide bombings, its nature isn't yet clear. Societal factors could also play a role, depending on the socioeconomic status of the attackers, the regime under which they operate, or the social networks they belong to.
This research could help us understand, model, and possibly predict when and how terrorists will favor suicide bombing, and in doing so, it could help state actors protect vulnerable populations.
Learn more in "The Rise and Spread of Suicide Bombing" in the 2015 Annual Review of Political Science: http://arevie.ws/1qKGjyl