06 April 2012
Suicide in Sociology
Émile Durkheim, a Frenchman commonly cited as the father of sociology, was the first to argue that the causes of suicide are found in social factors not just individual problems. He argued that suicide rates are affected by various social conditions from which they emerge. Durkheim studied how people feel integrated into a social structure and how that is likely or unlikely to produce suicide. Sociology classifies three different types of suicide: anomic suicide, altruistic suicide, and egoistic suicide.
Anomic suicide happens when individuals feel lost or alone in society. An example of this is teenage suicide or campus suicides which are found to be caused by feelings of depression or hopelessness. Often individuals who commit this kind of suicide were abused as children or had alcoholic parents.
Altruistic suicide occurs when the individual subordinates themselves to collective expectations of a social group. An example of this is when someone kills themselves for the sake of a religious or political cause. Terrorists and suicide bombers have such strong beliefs that they are willing to die and kill others to achieve their goals. Durkheim agreed that altruistic suicide results when individuals are excessively persuaded by their social group.
Egoistic suicides take place when people feel totally cut off from society. This type of suicide is most commonly committed by elderly who are over 75, presumably Fasoldt 2
because of they lose many bonds in society due to retirement and loss of family and friends. People who commit egoistic suicide are cut off from or not well integrated into social networks. For example, both the shooters in the Virginia Tech and Columbine High School were characterized as extremely socially isolated.
Is suicide an individual problem or a societal one? I believe that suicide is a macro-societal problem (meaning it can be caused by how people see...
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