durkheim suicide

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Durkheim Suicide. Durkheims Suicide is a classical work in the sociological tradition. 1. identifies social factors involved in a very personal and intimate individual behavior. Helps define: 1. the subject matter of sociology - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • DurkheimSuicide

  • Durkheims Suicide is a classical work in the sociological tradition.1. identifies social factors involved in a very personal and intimate individual behavior.Helps define:1. the subject matter of sociology2. the relationship between the private troubles and the public issues (sociological imagination)

  • 2. it is based on empirical and statistical data. Gives rise to an objective and quantitative research method in sociology

  • Durkheims findings are based on old data (not always valid today) However, his analysis has not lost its relevance (one of the major theoretical sources on suicide)

  • Suicide in Canada:Suicide is the third cause of death in Canada (more than 4%).The following data on suicide in Canada confirm some of Durkheims conclusions.(Age, Gender, Profession, the Family, Ethnicity (Cohesion), Inequality)

  • Age groups:In Canada, suicide is the second highest cause of death for youth aged 10-24.

  • GenderIn 1991 the rate of suicide for young men was six times greater than for young women.

  • Young girls are more likely to attempt suicideConsidered suicide(12 to 14 years of age)10% of girls and 4% of boys A Quebec survey. (Grade 8)20% of girls 13% of boys A survey in British Columbia

  • Aboriginals:The suicide rate among Indian youth was five times that of the total Canadian population.

  • Well integrated Aboriginal CommunitiesSome had low or non-existent rates of suicide self-government settling land claims, control over community social servicesengaging in traditional cultural healing practices.

  • Professional groups:Farm operators (lower rate)RCMP (half that of the comparable general population)

  • Youth in CanadaCauses of suicide: Fewer important persons in the kinship network More conflicts with this networkA strong experiences of being lonely and alone.

  • Depression and self-esteem(12 to 18 years of age)feel really depressed once a month:43% percent of young women 23% of young menfeel good about themselves:30%young women43%young men

  • InequalitySuicide risk among young males is increased when those around them are perceived to be more advantaged.

  • Egoistic Suicide

  • Suicide and religionProtestants are found to kill themselves much more often than Catholics.How can we explain this fact?

  • CatholicismIn Durkheims view, is more hierarchical than Protestantism.

  • Protestantism:Protestantism concedes a greater freedom to individual because it has fewer: 2. common beliefs 3. Practices (rituals)

  • The three aspects of social IntegrationRituals: such as baptism, communion, wedding, confession, etc..Beliefs: more religious beliefs regulate the individual's life.Organization: Catholicism is more hierarchical than Protestantism.

  • HappinessResults from the fulfilment of our needsHuman needs are:1. Physical (bodily/organic needs)2. Transcendental (beyond our bodily needs higher needs)

  • Physical [bodily] NeedsTheir source is our body (e.g. need for food, clothing, shelter) They are fixed and given by our physical constitution (not by our social conditions) .

  • Their aim is our bodily existence (living)Their deployment is individual (no need for others or in Durkheims terms we are self-sufficient)

  • As limited to bodily needs:

    We can live happily with no other objective than living. [i.e. without thought of any other ends in life].Yet, we have capacity to reflect, imagine and suggest to ourselves needs that go beyond what is merely indispensable for our survival (i.e. Transcendental ends).

  • Transcendental endsExamples: the sentiments of sympathy and solidarity art, morality, religion, political faith, science.They are:not an essential and fixed part of human nature, acquired by people as they become adult and socialized.

  • the child and the old

    are not so dependent on these (transcendental and higher) needs.

    the civilized adult

    has many ideas, feelings and practices unrelated to organic (bodily) needs


  • The social origin of the higher needs Society:Creates the sentiments of sympathy and solidarity drawing us toward others; Fills us with religious, political and moral beliefs

  • The social conditions of our higher needsTheir satisfaction depends on the presence of others and on our interaction and relationship with others (i.e. Someone to love, to express our sympathy for, some one to play or listen to music with, etc.))

  • The social aims of our higher needsThey are not just for us to enjoy them individually but rather their aims are to enhance our relationships, to enrich our common life, i.e., our social existence)

  • Social detachment and unhappinessDetachment from society deprives us from: the conditions required for the fulfilment of our higher needs (i.e., our connection to and interaction with others)the aims and purposes of our higher ends.

  • Further evidence:The lower rates of suicide among:

    Children and the aged: physical man, in both, tends to become the whole of man.(no significant social needs) Woman: Less social!can endure life in isolation more easily than man!

  • Durkheims bias against womenWomans sensibility is rudimentary rather than highly developed.! Man by contrast is a more complex social being,!

  • Is a reflection of the womens condition in his time, He, incorrectly, generalizes it by assuming that it represents womens nature in general!

  • Egoistic Suicide Defined:Egoism refers to a social condition which breeds egoism, leading to depression and suicide.

  • Egoism:

    On the one hand refers to:A wrong belief that our interests and purposes are limited to our ego, that we are always motivated by self-interest and ought to do what is in our self-interest

  • This belief leads to a denial of the social origin of our human needs (such as the need for sympathy, cooperation, love, music, arts, etc..) and their purposes.

  • 2. A belief that only one's self exists (an excessive or exaggerated sense of self-importance (egotism)This belief leads to a scarce feeling of need for others or for social life in general.

  • The egoistic suicide is caused by a gap between: our socially defined needs (an undeniable condition of human life) and our socially constructed egoistic value (a denial of our social needs and our need for others and social life in general)

  • Shortcomings of Durkheims analysis1. Not all higher ends have a positive social aim (e.g. power)2. lacks a clear analysis of the causes of social disintegration.

  • Anomic Suicide

  • Economic crisis and suicide

    The statistics show that when an economic crisis occurs the rate of suicide increases.

  • Economic prosperity and suicideBut the statistics also show that economic prosperity leads to an increase in the suicide rate.

  • Poverty and suicidePeople in poor countries are not necessarily unhappy, nor they commit suicide more than in rich advanced countries.

  • Suicide Rates (per 100,000)

    Country Males FemalesLithuania 73.7 13.7Russian Federation 72.9 13.7..Switzerland 30.9 12.2France 30.4 10.8Japan 24.3 11.5Canada 21.5 5.4Sweden 20.0 8.5USA19.3 4.4.

  • Justice and suicideOur perception of an undeserved poverty which is at the basis of our disappointment, and maladjustment in life.

  • Justice and happinessOur bodily organic needs, same as animals needs, are regulated by nature; biologically.

  • Our infinite needsYet our ends are not limited to our bodyWe aim at better conditions in life. Left to ourselves to decide our ends in life they:become unlimited, and unrealisticsurpass the meansbecome insatiable and bottomless abyss.

  • If it is not restraint, our ends become a source of torment:to pursue a goal which is by definition unattainable is to condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness.

  • How to limit our needs?Some force exterior to individual; a regulative force is required.However, when individuals ends are "maintained by force or costume" it is superficially restrained and "peace and harmony is illusory".

  • The moral restraintNot physical restraint, only a moral restraint (conscience) can limit our desires. To be moral, regulations must be recognized as just and must come from a power obeyed through respect."

  • Justice is historicalat every moment of history there is a dim perception of the respective value of different social services, the relative reward due to each.

  • Equal opportunityif the conditions (of social success) are the same for everyone

    in the old times, it was based merely on "birth", but nonetheless considered as legitimate. Today only hereditary fortune and merit.

  • Justice is socialSociety" 1. gives the individuals standards to judge what is just and unjust.(e.g. birth vs. merit, i.e. Ascription vs. Achievement)

  • 2. stipulates law, and estimates the reward offered to functions (e.g., what a teacher, a working person, a Doctor should expect)

  • 3. Gives the reasons for accepting the rules of justice.Justice requires sacrifices in the name of the public interest

  • When is justice disrupted?1. when society is disturbed by some painful crisis or by beneficent but abrupt transitions.

  • Economic crises and justiceEconomic disasters: lead to the declassification of certain individuals (e.g. Unemployment and p