1 Durkheim (French positivist sociologist) believed society should be
studied like the natural sciences, and to prove that it could and should, he
tried to find evidence that what seems like an intensely personal act like suicide to
be the product of external forces, and psychological theories are
1.1 Suicide rates as social facts:
Durkheim believed our behaviour is
caused by social forces found in the
structure of society. Social facts are;
external to individuals, constrain
individuals and are greater than the
1.2 Durkheim based his
conclusions on suicide rates off
of suicide statistics which he
took as facts.
2 Durkheim claimed that too little or too much social
integration or moral regulation caused suicide.
2.1 Social integration
refers to an
individual's sense of
belonging to groups
2.2 Moral regulation refers to
the extent to which
individual's actions and
desires are kept in check
by norms and values.
2.3 Based on his ideas of what
determined suicide (too little or too
much social integration or moral
regulation) , he came up with four
types of suicide; egoistic, anomic,
altruistic and fatalistic.
2.3.1 Egoistic suicide: caused by too little social
integration. This is the most common type of
suicide in modern societies. Too little social
integration is often a result of excessive
individualism. A person may feel lonely,
depressed and disconnected with others, and
ends their life. This may explain the higher rate
of suicide among Protestants compared with
Catholics. Protestants have more individual
freedom in what to believe and hoe to express
their faith, whereas Catholics are more tightly
integrated by shared beliefs and collective
2.3.2 Altruistic suicide: caused by too much social
integration. Others are put before the self, and
group interests override those f the individual.
Suicide in this case is a self-sacrifice. For
example, during World War II, Japanese pilots
were expected to crash their planes into American
2.3.3 Anomic suicide: caused by too little moral regulation. A person
may kill themselves because they are uncertain of what society
expects from them. For example, the higher suicide rate in men
may be because the role of men in modern societies is becoming
more unclear as women are taking on similar roles.
2.3.4 Fatalistic suicide: caused by too much moral
regulation. A person may not believe they cannot
control their life,so there is no point in carrying on.
Slaves and prisoners are examples of this.
2.4 Durkheim found factors
determining suicide extended to
where you live, your marital
status, whether or not you had
children, your gender and your
3 Jack D. Douglas (interactionist) says
suicide has social meanings. He came
up with an alternative set of suicide
types based on the meanings
individuals attach to the act.
3.1 Transformation of the
show repentance for
3.2 Transformation of the
escaping the misery of
3.3 Revenge suicide:
attach guilt or
blame to those
who have wronged
3.4 Sympathy suicide: 'cry
for help', often found
suicides, who hope to
be found in time
4 Atkinson criticised
for basing it on
show us nothing
about suicide, but
how coroners have
decided to classify
4.1 Atkinson found that coroners,
just like everyone else, held
of what a suicide is, and their
decision making reflected this.
4.1.1 For example, if the victim had a life
history of depression, their death is
more likely to be classed as a suicide,
when maybe it wasn't. Atkinson says
the real rate of suicide is not knowable
because we cannot ask a dead person
if their death was really a suicide.
5.1 Taylor studied para-suicides on
London's Underground. He supports
Atkinson's findings that what fitted in
with coroner's definitions of suicides
were more likely ot end in a suicide
5.2 Taylor claimed that the
degree of certainty and
themselves and their
relationships with others
makes them commit or
5.2.1 Submissive suicide
is inner directed and
certain. A person
may believe their life
is over and they
cannot be helped.
5.2.2 Sacrifice suicide is
directed at others, and
certain. Others have
made their life intolerable
and they feel like they
need to die.
5.2.3 Thanation suicide is directed at the self, and
is uncertain. A person is unsure whether to
live or die, so they may take risks and gamble
with death, and perhaps surviving it will
re-evaluate life's meaning.
5.2.4 Appeal suicide is directed at
others and is uncertain.
They are acts of despair and
hope, a cry for help. An
individual mat attempt
suicide to resolve their
5.3 There are similarities
between Durkheim and
Taylor's types of suicide.
Taylor's certainty and
Durkheim's notions of
anomie and fatalism.
Taylor's self and other
directed syucudes parellel
Durkheim's egoistic and