A sociological explanation of suicidal behaviour

Then the instructor differentiates between individualistic explanations and sociological explanations. If you do this essentially as a lecture, one minute period might be enough; I prefer to encourage student participation, so I allow two minute sessions. For data showing variations in suicide rates by state go to the American Association of Suicidology's statistics page and click on: Rates, numbers, and rankings of each state.

A sociological explanation of suicidal behaviour

By Joachim Vogt Isaksen Whenever a person commits suicide everyone involved try to understand why he or she did it. Based on the classical works of the French sociologist Emile Durkheim, I will in this article show how the private act of committing suicide often can be explained in view of the structure and culture of society.

Since the s the suicide rate, or the percentage of people who die through suicide, has almost tripled for people between the ages of 15 and 24 in A sociological explanation of suicidal behaviour US, becoming the third leading cause of death, behind accidents and homicides.

Most people have a need to explain something that feels unbearable and meaningless. Common explanations often given for suicides are that the person must have been lonesome, hopeless, unhappy, unloved or unable to cope with demands of and expectations of contemporary social life.

The Neurobiological Basis of Suicide.

Focusing merely on individual characteristics, like depression and frustration, does not explain why so many people in this group of age commit suicide, nor does it tell us why their has been such a dramatic increase in youth suicide over the past decades. In the article The Sociological Imagination I described how individual behavior can be explained by social forces.

One way of understanding why a person commits suicide is therefore to look beyond his or her private mental state, and examine the social and historical factors that may have influenced the person. The role of culture and society Emile Durkheim — argued that suicide is more likely to occur when the social ties that bind people to one another in a society are either too weak or too strong.

He saw suicide as a manifestation of the changes in modern society that were altering the fundamental bonds that connected people to one another and to their community.

He thought that life in a modern society tends to be individualistic and dangerously alienating. This is a concern that is often shared by contemporary sociologists.

Stress–Diathesis Model of Suicidal Behavior - The Neurobiological Basis of Suicide - NCBI Bookshelf

Durkheim mapped out four different types of suicides: In his view, psychological problems were the result of these miss-adaptations, and suicides should therefore be understood socially rather than psychologically. Is suicide a selfish act?

People are commonly integrated into society by work roles, ties to family and community etc. Durkheim thought that the egoistic suicide was the result of the modernization of society where people commonly experience feelings of not belonging, or of not being integrated in the community.

This can give rise to feelings of meaninglessness, apathy, melancholy, and depressions. To the contrary, traditional societies are characterized by a higher degree of integration with stronger social bonds.

Durkheim for example showed that suicide rates are higher for people without children than people with children, and for those who are single as opposed to those who are married. Durkheim also demonstrated that the suicide rate were higher among Protestants than Catholics.

He thought that overall, Catholics as a group were more socially integrated than Protestants. Among several other reasons, he claimed that the Protestantism emphasized individualism as opposed to the more collectively oriented Catholicism.

A sociological explanation of suicidal behaviour

Some people argue that suicide is a selfish act since it ends the problems and troubles for the person committing it, but still opens a whole lot of wounds and emotional problems for the people left behind. At the same time it is important to understand that some people become unhappy and depressed since they feel disconnected from the society they live in.

This may result in a feeling of being unimportant and unworthy, where ending the life is perceived as the only solution. Even if this certainly is a false perception, the person may feel unwanted and therefore choose to commit suicide.

For someone who had a good life, it is very difficult to part with it. But I reached a point of no return. I must plunge into an enemy vessel. To be honest, I cannot say that the wish to die for the emperor is genuine, coming from my heart. However, it is decided for me that I die for the emperor.

The sacrifice of ones own life was seen as an action of honour. The Altruistic suicide takes place when a person has lost his individual feeling of self. Typically this happens when the person sacrifices his own life for his society or group.

In such cases the bonds within the social group are so strong and intense that they create a powerful sense of group identity, with individuals being completely dependent upon the group. The altruistic suicide can also be observed these days with the suicide bombers in the Middle East.

Strong discipline and repression of ones own feelings are important characteristics of the suicide bomber. They are not only motivated by honour, but also by something they see as a duty to society. Effects of sudden and dramatic changes in society The anomic suicide is related to dramatic social and economic changes in a society.

These sudden changes lead to moral confusion and a lack of social direction. Durkheim pointed to the paradox that although suicide rates rose during times of economic recession, they also rose during times of boom and prosperity, when we might expect them to decline.


In both cases, there is a sudden change in norms and social expectations. One example of this is stockbrokers jumping to their death during the crash ofor lottery winners committing suicide.

The fatalistic suicide is the opposite of the anomic suicide and occurs when there is an overregulation of society.Sociological explanation: Monogamy (one woman and one man) is only one form of mating. Mating patterns depend on a variety of economic and social factors. Marriage is a human institution.

Read "On the Origins of the Punishment of Suicidal Behaviour in Old-European Law -- Historical versus Sociological Explanation, European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice" on DeepDyve, the largest online rental service for scholarly research with thousands of academic publications available at your fingertips.

Nature and Nurture Explanations of Human Behaviour Posted on July 28, by Karl Thompson While not denying the role of biology in explaining some aspects of human behaviour, sociology very much emphasises the role of society (nurture) rather than nature in explaining human action.

Why Do People Commit Suicide?

The main purpose of this work is to reveal a sociological explanation about a social fact. Among different social facts, it is possible to emphasize the pathological social fact associated with the social problems, which is called suicide. "Le Suicide" by founding sociologist Émile Durkheim is a classic text in sociology that is widely taught to psychology students.

Published in , the book was the first to present a sociological study of suicide, and its conclusion that suicide can have origins in social causes rather than just. The key point about sociological explanation is that although there are important differences of opinion within Sociology, all sociologists agree that human behaviour can be explained to a considerable effect by the social factors that influence that behaviour.

An Introduction to Sociology