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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Discuss the concept of “Suicide” along with its types given by Emile's Durkheim



Suicide :

As a sociologist, Durkheim had no interest in the subject of suicide. He thought it related to the psychologists but he was interested in the rates of suicides and he tried to know the different rates of suicide by taking help form scientific research in this rigid. In his theory of suicide, he has described four kinds of suicide and he has joined this with integration and regulation which become a cause of collective emotions in a society. From integration, Durkheim means that stage of collective sentiments where they get cooperation and sharing. According to him, integration refers to the degree to which collective sentiments are shared and regulation refers to the degree of external constraints on people.
Whitney Pope has described the four kinds of suicide relation with integration and regulations as a summary.

i. Egoistic suicide :
Such groups and societies where an individual is not integrated with some large social unit have this type of suicide. The lack of integration creates a sense of meaning-lessens in those individuals. The societies having strong collective. conscious and intense safety feelings provide such social conditions as to lessen egotistic suicide and promote a sense ‘of importance of life in the individuals. When these social currents are weak, individuals easily overcome collective conscious and they do as they wish.
In a large social unit where collective conscious is weak and individuals are allowed to have their own ways, this unlimited egoism causes dissatisfaction because all desires cannot be fulfilled and if some of these are fulfilled they give rise to other wishes coming again more dissatisfaction causing egoistic suicide. Well-united families, religious groups and strong societies play a role to promote collective conscious and thus discourage egoistic suicide.

Durkheim says that religion saves an individual from a wish of self-destruction because it provides some beliefs, prayers and traditions making a social faithfulness obligatory. The more the strong mental collective condition, the more the stronger will be religious class and values providing safeguard will be as strong.

In the words of Durkheim,
“The more numerous and strong these collective states of mind are, the stronger the integration of the religious community, also the greater its preservation value.”

The non-integration of a society creates clear social currents which are the basic reasons of difference of rates in the suicide. He says that non-integration of a society creates depression and self-deception and moral non-integration inclining an individual toward suicide that increases the egoistic suicides.

ii. Altruistic suicide :
This is the second form of suicide and it takes place because of too strong social integration. In other words, an individual is literally forced to commit suicide.
Generally people committing such a suicide, think it their duty. Durkheim gives an example of a religious sect where in a festival some people drink poisonous wine to commit suicide. In Hinduism, Rasim Satti (burning oneself alive) is an example of altruistic suicide because a widow is obliged to comply with social custom to keep that custom maintained to die with"1 her dead husband. Durkheim says that altruistic suicide has no connection with integration directly but social integration produces difference of different social currents and these affect the rate of suicide. Social melancholy affects social integration and causes this type of suicide and it increases by the time when the individuals believe in the hereafter beautiful life is waiting for him.

iii. Anomic suicide :
Durkheim has discussed much this form of suicide. It takes place when there is disruption in the regulatory power of society making the individual dissatisfied because he loses control over emotions and his sexual desire makes him wayward like wild.animals. Anomic suicide rate increases whether social disruption is negative or positive (at once increase or decrease in economic condition). These disruptions lessens the ability of social control and an individual confronts a new situation in the making. This is a called anomic suicide. These currents increase the rate of anomic suicide. This scene can be viewed in the form
of mental depression.

On the basis of economic depression, the closure of a factory may be a source of ending of employment. Individual wanders here and there. Social control ends and this separates from religion, family and state because of this an individual falls a prey to current of economic suicide but this scene seems difficult to be understood when economic welfare at once changes the social condition. All of a sudden, economic success makes him sick of the social structure in which he is living. He leaves his old profession and‘ changes his
residence, joins a new class and. makes another marriage. All of these changes make the outer control over him weak and social structure becomes meaningless for him. This boom period makes him fall a prey to economic social current thereby increasing the rate of anomic suicide. Durkheim says that people free from social sanction and external restriction become the slaves of their desires and passions and do some destructive acts including killing themselves in a greater number which is anomic suicide.

iv. Fatalistic suicide : 
Durkheim has given little importance to this type of suicide and he has described it in footnote in his book because its rate is little. This type of suicide takes place under the intense norms and control. According to Durkheim, the people who commit suicide of this type think that their future progress has been blocked and their emotions have been finished by the strict norms and social control or have been prevented to express their passion. The suicide of slaves, suicide of trainees, because of strict control of army, and suicide of intelligent and sensitive prisoners in a jail are the examples of fatalistic suicides.

Durkheim says, .“To much regulation-oppression unleashes currents of melancholy that, in turn, cause a rise in the rate of fatalistic suicide.”

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