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Emile Durkheim

French Sociologist writing


at end of 19th Century
Durkheim’s Three Types of
Suicide (I)

• EGOISTIC SUICIDE -
highlighted historically by
variations among European
religions in suicide rates
Egoistic Suicide
Egoistic suicide is the result of
‘excessive individualism,’ the
absence of social cohesion
Cohesion Reduces Suicide
 married less vulnerable than unmarried
 married with children less vulnerable
than married and childless
 large families less vulnerable than small
families
 suicide declines during wartime, other
periods of external threat
Durkheim’s Three Types of
Suicide (II)

ALTRUISTIC SUICIDE –
especially common in
preindustrial societies, but can
be found anywhere
September 11th Suicide Bomber
Martyr Memorabilia in Gaza
Altruistic Suicide
• Altruistic suicide is the result of
‘massive cohesion’
• Altruistic suicides arise out of a
sense of duty to the group
Durkheim’s Three Types of
Suicide (III)

ANOMIC SUICIDE –
highlighted especially by rapid
economic fluctuations
Durkheim on ‘Anomie’
‘From top to bottom of the ladder, greed is
aroused without knowing where to find
ultimate foothold. Nothing can calm it,
since its goal is far beyond all it can attain.
Reality seems valueless by comparison with
the dreams of fevered imaginations. Reality
is therefore abandoned.’
Anomic Suicide
• Occurs when social order is in
sudden or dramatic change, and
social control is thus weakened
• Our expectations concerning
material entitlements become
uncertain
Male Suicides, Ireland, 1985 -
1999
450
400
350
300
250 1985
200 1990
150 1993
100 1997
50 1999
0
Number
of
Suicides
SUICIDE RATES PER MILLION BY AGE,
UNITED KINGDOM, 1974

All Ages 25-34


England and Wales 94 98
Scotland 101 92
Northern Ireland 42 19
TRENDS IN BRITISH SUICIDE
RATE, MALES, SELECTED YEARS

YEAR RATE
1901-10 161
1914-18 114
1928-36 188
1941-45 133
1947-53 146
SUICIDE RATES BY AGE AND SEX
SCOTLAND, 1997

Suicide Rate per 100,000


15-34 35-44 45-64 65-74
male 25 31 22 13
female 6 9 9 6
Suicide in International
Perspective
Countries With Highest Male
Suicide Rates (per 100k), 2000 ony
Lithuania 76
Russia 63
Latvia 57
Estonia 56
Hungary 52
Ukraine 52
GlobalTrend, 1950-1995, in
Suicide by Sex
Suicide Rates by Age and Sex,
Global Estimates, 2002
Three Questions About Suicide
1. In a time of rising unemployment, WHY is
suicide highest at the beginning of the
cycle?
2. WHY has the once strong correlation
between divorce and suicide ceased to
exist?
3. WHY are suicide rates highest not during
the Winter but just before and after Winter?
WHY SUICIDE?

 Unemployment is only isolating,


stigmatising at the onset of cycle …
 Divorce was once highly stigmatising,
denoted personal failure, but no longer …
 People vulnerable because have gotten
through winter and things haven’t improved
OR have had a bad summer and assume that
winter will worsen situation …
US Females, 1990, Seasonality of
Suicide
% Diff from Average
Jan -9
Feb -2
April +9
May +6
August + 10
December -8