Is Suicide an individual act?

  • Durheim
  • Douglas
  • Attkinson
  • Sainsbury
  • Halwachs
  • Gibbs and Martin
  • Hindess
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Durkheim-Too little or too much integration/regulation : (claims to be a positivist but goes
further than analysing social trends such as rates are higher amongst protestants than
Catholics and amongst unmarried women and during times of social or economic change )
So is he really a positivist????
1. Egoistic: Too much integration
2. Altruistic: Too little integration.
3. Anomic: Too little regulation.
4. Fatalistic. Too much regulation.
Sainsbury-social disorganisation (divorce/illegitimacy)
Halbwachs-In his study of suicide he found correlations between the rural/urban divide and
found rates were higher in urban areas due to isolation from the community. (similar to
Durkheim- a lack of integration)
Taylor-He argued that outside forces are governing our behaviour, but suicide still is an
individual act based on perception of one's self or relationship with others. He builds up a
general typology of reasons which can be applied to different societies but within these there
are individual cases. He gives Four main reasons within his typology:
i) Submissive: When you are sure about yourself and your wish to die and feel there is no point
ii) Thanotation: When you are not certain about yourself and life, it is almost like risk taking and
leaving it to chance as to whether you should die.
iii) Sacrificial: When you are sure you want to die, this takes into account relationships with
others. Either you or someone else has done something that cannot be forgiven. It is a form of
communication, sometimes to induce guilt or sympathy.
iv) Appeal: When you are not sure about yourself and death and relationships with others. It is a
form of communication with someone.
IT IS AN INDIVIDUAL ACT (interpretivist)
Gibbs and Martins-They study the underlining reasons for suicide and their studies go
further than Durkheim (e.g. too little integration may be due to lack of status due to low
income earner)
Douglass- Wants to understand meaning of individuals within different social contexts and
their meaning and motivations for death. He rejects Durkheim's view to categorise suicide in
terms of social causes. In western society he found that the main reasons for suicide were:
1. Transformation of soul
2. Transformation of self.
3. Inducing guilt
4. Sympathy.
He used personal qualitative accounts to achieve verstehen. BUT it is really or is it merely an
Atkinson-too much of an individual act to ever understand, all we can do is looks at how
officials come to define suicide using common sense knowledge that everyone shares known
as reflexivity. They made their decisions on the basis of a note, location of death, mode of death
and took in to account history of mental illness and surrounding circumstances.

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HINDNESS: CRITICISES ethnomethodology as they claim we can only study coroners
interpretation of suicide and of the social world rather than the actual social act, however
we could say their understanding of officials are merely interpretations too!!!
Psychologists-mental health. (some may be more predisposed than others to develop
psychological conditions that could lead to them to commit suicide) ­Just as others are more
prone to crime for example as Wilson and Herrnstein argued.…read more


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