Suicide. It’s a word I’ve become all too familiar with this past semester. It’s a touchy subject for most people, including myself, but looking at it in a sociological view makes it less close to home for me. In this blog I’m going to discuss Emile Durkheim’s theories about suicide.
Durkheim focused his studies on trying to figure out what makes people commit to this life ending choice and what factors in their lives may have given them the final push. Durkheim thought that economical, religious, marital, and militarily factors would influence his findings. After his study he concluded that there are four different “types” of suicide.
The first type is the Egoistic suicide. This type of suicide occurs when the degree of social integration is low. When a person commits this type of suicide they are not well supported in a social group. They feel like they are an outsider or loner and the only people they have in this world are themselves. They often feel very isolated and helpless during times in their lives when they are under stress.
The second type is Altuistic suicide. This type of suicide occurs when the degree of social integration is too high. When a person commits this type of suicide they are greatly involved in a group. All that they care about are that groups norms and goals and they completely neglect their own needs and goals. They take their lives for a cause. A good example of this would be a suicide bomber.
Durkheim’s third type of suicide is Anomic Suicide. This kind of suicide is related to too low of a degree of regulation. This type of suicide is committed during times of great stress or change. Without regulation, a person cannot set reachable goals and in turn people get extremely frustrated. Life is too much for them to handle and it becomes meaningless to them. An example of this is when the market crashes or spikes.
The final type of suicide is Fatalistic suicide. People commit this suicide when their lives are kept under tight regulation. They often live their lives under extreme rules and high expectations. These types of people are left feeling like they’ve lost their sense of self.
Looking at this topic in Durkheim’s way of thinking was reallly interesting to me.
Durkheim, Emile, Suicide: A Study in Sociology, New York, The Free Press, 1951.