Today’s lecture had me thinking all afternoon. I found it really interesting that Durkheim had such strong theories related to suicide. I have to say that I both agree and disagree with his ideas. Being that I am a psychology major, I think I have a strong bias against theories that argue a certain phenomena is not really a result of one’s mental health. However, after conceptualizing Durkheim’s theory I understand his sociological analysis of suicide, but I do not think that he was necessarily correct in almost shunning psychological aspects of suicide. Further, I had some thoughts regarding Durkheim’s interpretation of the anomie theory in relation to suicide.
Suicide is a very interpersonal action. I think that those who attempt or go through with suicide have an internal conflict which can be influenced by events or occurrences in society. I disagree in that social events can directly lead one to commit suicide. I believe there has to be underlying issues or conflicts that an individual deals with that contributes to their decision to attempt suicide. As Professor Hala mentioned in class, the economic crisis was almost the tip of the ice berg for many men’s emotional states which, in turn, increased the likelihood they would go through with suicide. Perhaps these men already felt a sense of pressure, depression or concern about making ends meet in order to support themselves or their families; then following the downfall of our economy, they may have felt completely defeated and that there was no other way out. Shifting gears and thinking about suicide internationally or cross culturally, I think that social facts and the way in which individuals relate to their society or culture play a role in suicide statistics. However, I do still contest to my belief that there is a psychological factor that plays a role in a carried out suicide attempts.
Robert Merton (1940) expanded on Durkheim’s theory of anomie by discussing five adaptations of strain. Durkheim’s theory of anomie discusses the break down of cultural norms due to rapid change. This is related back to suicide in that individuals are more likely to commit suicide in times of rapid or sudden economic decrease or prosperity. Merton proposed five modes or adaptations to strain that members of society fell into if they could not achieve goals, if you will. Conformity, innovation, rebellion, ritualism and retreatism are the modes of adaptation (I have provided a link below which describes each mode of adaptation in detail). Typically these modes of adaptation are used to understand deviance among societies, but sociologically thinking, I would consider suicide to be an act of deviance, because it essentially goes against social norms. While reading about Durkheim’s theories on suicide, I was surprised not to see any mention of Merton’s expansion as I believe they would support Durkheim’s ideology and supported his idea that social factors influence suicide.
Durkheim provides a very thought-provoking take on suicide. I would have never thought of suicide on a macro level in the way he did. I believe that suicide is very individualistic BUT individuals are easily influenced by social events which can reinforce their suicidal thoughts or tendencies.
Sometimes our perception of something may influence our ability to understand the reality of a situation. I think most Americans have been purposely blinded to the cruel reality of our economic system and inequality of wealth among the country. I have always understood that there was sever inequality when it came to money, but I never seen or actually understood the statistics. Additionally, I don’t really know how I feel about the inequality. Is it fair to penalize those who have worked for years for all they have? But, is it fair to those who struggle living paycheck to paycheck that never get a chance to financially prosper? I don’t know that I or anyone else can really answer these questions.
To me, capitalism represents the rich being rich, the poor being poor and everyone else just working or existing to support the two extremes. Socialism is the opposite in that all people have an equal amount of money. I was surprised when I watched the videos and really thought about the inequality, in fact it made rather upset. Firstly, to think of all those who are living at or below the poverty level compared to the 1% is something I cannot wrap my head around. We all live in the same nation, with the same presidents and the same opportunities; America, the land of opportunity. A place that I’m sure so many people would drop everything and leave their country if they were given the chance. Moreover, I was completely shocked to see that there was not a drastic difference between those considered low and middle class in terms of the percentages. I consider the middle class the hardest working of all the classes.
These videos and statistics have made me realize that we are not all equal and although we like to think equality exists among us, it does not. I do not think that the inequality is or can be controlled by anyone. However, I do think that there should be something done to decrease the wealth inequality gap in the United States. We must create a happy medium between capitalism and socialism to bring us a better change of economic equality among Americans.
During these times the economic crisis is making everyone struggle, unfortunately some more than others. There is a controversy with the president’s proposition to raise the minimum wage to $9 mostly coming from those who have money and are employers. The rich fail to realize that everything that we need in order to survive increases except the salary. This January the taxes increased about 4%, which caused worker to earn less than they did last year, even with a raise. Imagine if you didn’t get a raise? how much less are you making now than what you did a month ago? I am speaking from personal experience with myself and coworkers. We receive a raise every year, and this year when we saw our first paycheck we realized that even with the raise we were making less money per week then we did last year; mind you we get paid by salary and not by hours. Seems like the more money companies make; the harder it is to give their employees a substantial raise. For example there was an article about McDonald’s complaining about the president’s decision to raise the minimum wage to $9 which I found to be very disappointing. Why is it so difficult for them to raise their employees hourly salary from $7.25 to $9, when one of their meals is about $9? Is not like their sales are low. People are always going there to get food at any time of the day. In whose right mind can a person who has a family live comfortably with $7.25 and hour? No one can. I just hope that the minimum is raised because it will help a little bit every family that is struggling. When you are in the lower class branch every penny counts. I believe that the more company makes the less they want to pay its employees. These employers might argue that they have things to pay for the company such as taxes, bills, etc, but they don’t stop to think that if their employees are happy they might work better. instead of exploiting their services.? Apparently not. I see thir dilemma in a way, but at the end of the days the consumers are the ones paying for all of that. I just hope that one days these employers see the struggles that its employees go thru every single day and how hard they have to work in order to make ends meet, and realize that every dollar that is taken away makes a big difference for them and their family. Things are only getting harder in this country and in many others, if it keeps going i don’t know where will we end up.
Here are a few links that i thought would be useful.
The Minimum Wage STILL Isn’t a Good Idea
$9 Minimum Wage to Hurt McDonald’s?
After reading the article “Even Critics of Safety Nets Increasingly Depend on it” by Binyamin Applebaum and Robert Gebeloff it was interesting to see how an average middle class person views government spending on each individual of society on how it provides healthcare and funds. What I found so interesting is how the people of Chisago were displeased with the fact that the government shells out millions of dollars on people who choose not to live within their means, and thus “waste” government funds sort to speak, as well as those such as themselves who are able to provide for themselves and their families. For instance in the article Mr. Gulbranson explains how he is able to provide for his family and doesn’t need the extra funding from the government, which he feels should go towards decreasing debt and increasing government savings, although he still amasses a whopping $6,583 as all other individuals in his county were provided with. Furthermore this extremely interested me because the people, including Mr. Gulbranson are so unhappy with the notion of collecting government money for themselves, but on the contrary what average middle class american has almost an extra 7,000 dollars lying around? I think if the government just stopped providing for its citizens that $6583 for each individual the majority of society would go broke. What Mr. Gulbranson and the rest of Chisago should be thinking about is instead of cutting the safety net completely and receiving no funds, maybe each year a slight decrease on the funds they receive is applied, and those who are choose not to provide for themselves will have a time period in which they can get their act together before they lose all government providing. One thing is for certain though, if society as a whole does not figure out a way to reduce the funds each individual receives, eventually there will be no money left once the government debt reaches its ceiling, and people will go broke left and right.
The article, “Economic Crisis, Unemployment Take Emotional Toll,” was sad because it is during a time that we are living in. The fact that these suicide hotlines have had an increase of 35% in one year is frightening and an outrage. It’s scary to see how people feel as if they have no where left to go or turn to, and how embarrassed they feel about losing their jobs. The depression rate and/or desire to commit suicide is due to the fact that they feel unneeded, unwanted and unnecessary in life.
Durkheim expresses in, “From Suicide: A study in sociology,” she clearly states that it’s factual the connection that suicide and an economic crisis have with one another. The stats she gives us of suicides during the crisis in Vienna in 1873 is quite similar to the rise of suicide calls during present time. She also says, “every disturbance of equilibrium, even though it achieves greater comfort and a heightening of general vitality, is an impulse to voluntary death.” (p.125) Society has such a major impact in all that we do, and maybe society seems to be too understanding of suicides and feel a sense of lingering sadness when we hear of this, only because we too at one point in our lives have thought death would be better than what I’m going through.
The fact that we have so many hotlines to help people out or try to talk them out of it is great to read about. Not like it will end suicide, but they can definitely be used as a voice of reason. The economy is indeed in crisis, but no crisis last forever, so why take away your life when you never know what can be given to you tomorrow?