Sociology of Suicide

Hunaiza Sarfraz
Mind Map by Hunaiza Sarfraz, updated more than 1 year ago


Mindmap on some research and findings on suicide

Resource summary

Sociology of Suicide
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 inadequate.
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 individual
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 in society.
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 rituals.
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 warships.
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 religion.
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 self/repentant suicide: self-punishment to show repentance for wrongdoings.
3.2 Transformation of the soul/escape suicide: escaping the misery of this life
3.3 Revenge suicide: attach guilt or blame to those who have wronged them
3.4 Sympathy suicide: 'cry for help', often found among attempted suicides, who hope to be found in time
4 Atkinson criticised Durkheim's study for basing it on statistics, which are generally invalid. Statistics show us nothing about suicide, but how coroners have decided to classify sudden deaths.
4.1 Atkinson found that coroners, just like everyone else, held common, taken-for-granted-assumptions 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 Taylor (realist) suggested that both observable and unobservable underlying structures that cause suicide must be considered.
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 verdict.
5.2 Taylor claimed that the degree of certainty and uncertainty about themselves and their relationships with others makes them commit or attempt suicide.
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 uncertainty.
5.3 There are similarities between Durkheim and Taylor's types of suicide. Taylor's certainty and uncertainty parallels Durkheim's notions of anomie and fatalism. Taylor's self and other directed syucudes parellel Durkheim's egoistic and altruistic.
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