Durkheim + Suicide

Blog #3

Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) was a sociologist who was interested in collective solidarity. He believes that the problem in society is not that people are in different classes (Marx), but the problem is the fact that people must work in places that they do not wish to work in. Society does not have the right regulations in place in the division of labor. For Durkheim, the fundamental condition is modernity, not capitalism. One social pathology that Durkheim focused on was suicide. Durkheim noticed the connection between modernity and suicide. He wanted to bring moral issues into the study of suicide. The methodological objective was the application of sociological method to explain what appears on its face to be an “individual” phenomenon. Other factors make people vulnerable to suicide. 

 

One factor related to suicide that interested me was booms and busts in the economy. It was totally normal to me that suicide increases during a bust in the economy. After all, no one likes the economic recession that happened. However, it was interesting how there is also a suicide increase during booms in the economy. Both a boom and a bust cause a sudden shift in the individual’s habitual expectations, which leads to suicide. For example, if an economically comfortable individual wins the lottery, he/she may be overwhelmed with all of the money he/she won. Not everyone is accustomed to owning lots of money in the matter of seconds. He/she may be so stressed that he/she may commit suicide. On the other side of the spectrum, if someone economically comfortable goes broke, he/she may be upset at themselves and confused about what happened to their life previously. They will miss the money they used to have. Going from a house to being homeless will not be easy for them. Therefore, this will lead to suicide.

 

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