Emile Durkheim's 1897 analysis of suicide.

Essay by Folked13upHigh School, 12th gradeA+, February 2004

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Emile Durkheim, a sociologist in 1897, was a pioneer in his field. He set out to explain why some social groups have higher suicide rates than others. His explanation for this was that some groups are not as well socially integrated as others. Social integration is the attachments, ties, and shared bonds one has with others. Durkheim believed that the less social integration one had, the more likely they were to commit suicide. Some specific cases he applied this to were the absence of marriage and/or family, belief in a religion and connection to a religious community, and economic status of the individual. In some cases, statistics reinforced his social theories, and in others, it was obvious that he was mistaken. However, one thing is infallible, that his research was the first to examine the inner social workings of suicide.

Durkheim believed as a general rule, that the more social integration one experienced, the less likely they were to commit suicide.

Therefore, it is logical that without a spouse or close family, one would be more likely to commit suicide. In this context, two varieties of suicide would make sense. Egoistic suicide, or suicide where social ties are absent, would be more likely to affect a person who had lived alone most of his/her life, had no spouse or children, and decided that life was simply not worth living. Anomic suicide, on the other hand, would more likely be a person with a spouse or children, who lost them through divorce, death, custody disputes, or by any other means, and gave up their life because it had lost it's meaning. His reasoning for this can be summarized in three main points. First, by adapting to group life, one subordinates oneself to the goals of the group. Second, a married...