Durkheim's Theory of Suicide

Topics: Sociology, Émile Durkheim, Suicide Pages: 6 (2248 words) Published: June 19, 2011
Durkheim's Theory of Suicide

The main purpose of this document is to give an explanation to Durkheim’s theory in the light of his sociological analysis of suicide. I will stress the importance of suicide that Durkheim considered and how he was competent enough to present reasons to the social causes, as well as examining the variations in suicide rates by means of his hypothesis of social integration and regulatory functions of society. In doing so, this will determine the outcome if there are any complications to his theory. Emile Durkheim wrote a book called "Le Suicide" one of which his work was revolutionised in the field of sociology. It was first published at the end of the 19th century with the intention of demonstrating the use of sociological methods in a concrete social problem. His aim was to fragment the common grounds of suicide, promote them with analysis, and introduce them globally via this book. However, due to the nature of his theory, a majority of his findings on the subject of suicide are still relevant in today’s modern society. Durkheim argued that suicide cannot exclusively be grounded from individual responses or preferences, as considered beforehand by well-known researchers in his era, but rather, a social phenomenon that is accompanied by social constitutions. He gives description of suicide as "all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result” (Durkheim & Simpson, 2002, p. 110). He represent this as an example of a problematic social fact for the reason it was impelled by social factors, regardless of how hidden they were. Durkheim (2002) further states “if suicide depends on more than one cause it is because in reality there are several kinds of suicide” (p. 9).

Durkheim thought that by analysing the distinctive forms of suicide, he could determine key aspects of social structure. In an attempt to analyse and test his theory, he studied suicide rates by means of travelling all over Europe spanning several years of research. As soon as he achieved his primary investigation and examination, he discovered that, regardless of the percentage of suicide among individual communities with significant variations, rates within a community stayed consistent over a period of time. Durkheim (2002, p. 254) illustrates the total number of deceased (both sexes combined) among 1,000 Suicides of various kinds.

CountriesYearsStrangulation and HangingDrowningFire-armsLeaping from a High SpotPoisonAsphyxiation France1872426269103282069
England 1873366218442097

As we observe Durkheim’s evidence by looking at the table we can recognise that over a period of years, suicide of various nature have a comparatively consistent rate in every location. The figures may show inconsistency around the regions, except every area there is evidence of regularity. In the light of examining these suicide rate statistics from several European countries, Durkheim had discovered an increasing pattern of suicide among White, Protestant men. This kind of social factor that he reflects to is based on religious affiliation. Durkheim believed that suicide may in fact be high amongst single, Protestant, males for the reason that these groups lack of social integration and regulation (Durkheim & Simpson, 2002). Although he finds religion to be affiliated with suicide, under the impression that Protestant nations have unusual high...
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