Thursday, July 20, 2017

Types of Suicide according to Emile Durkheim - Summary


In his 1987 book "Suicide" Sociologist Emile Durkheim lists four possible reasons that can lead an individual to suicide:

Egoistic suicide - According to Durkheim, egoistic suicide occurs when someone loses the bonds that tie him to society. The term "egoistic" does not imply "selfish" but rather a condition in which someone's reality is only himself, lacking any ties to anyone else. In a regular condition we find ourselves in reality through our social position, our role, our relationships etc. When these are weakened or lost, says Durkheim, we are more prone to suicide.   

Anomic suicide - Anomic suicide is the result of a situation Durkheim defines as "Anomie". Anomie is the breakdown or guiding norms as the result of social detachment. Anomic suicide happens when someone feels he lacks a clear enough understanding of his reality. Times of rapid change (political, economical or social) are times in which we may find many people experiencing anomie, some of them will resort to anomic suicide.

Altruistic suicide - Somewhat opposed to anomic and egoistic suicide we can find what Durkheim calls "altruistic suicide". While the first two refer to a condition in which an individual's external ties are weakened, altruistic suicide is the result of these ties being very strong. In this type of suicide a person chooses to end his life under the impression that this will benefit his social group. An example of altruistic suicide can be Jihadist terrorists that are ready to give their lives for the sake of a perceived collective goal.  

Fatalistic suicide - For Durkheim, fatalistic suicide is the result of desperation, desperation caused by a sense of crushing social powers that erase the self. A condition in which the social structure denies the individual agency and a sense of control over his own life might result in fatalistic suicide.  

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