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SOCA01H3 (591)
Lecture 2

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Sheldon Ungar

Lecture 2 Suicide • Bloor Viaduct o built suicide proof barriers o favourite place to commit suicide in Toronto • suicide is often a momentary impulse, so if they stop them they will often go home and not commit suicide • Dante's Inferno: The Woods of the Suicides and the Harpies • Albert Camus: The Myth of Sisyphus o "there is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide" o societies are typically against suicide, because in a way it is saying that life is not worth living • Friedrich Nietzche o famous philosopher who pronounced God is dead o "The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a bad night" • Philosophy and Psychology o largely focus on suicide as an individual issue o psychology: depression, failure • Sociology o trying to look at it from a social point of view o broader social forces affecting one's life chances • 1994 mass suicide of 53 members of Solar Temple in Switzerland o not just psychological (since it was a mass suicide), shows it must have been social • Sue Rodriguez o suffering from muscular dystrophy o went to Supreme Court to ask for permission for dr.'s to end her life (suicide is legal in many parts of Northern Europe) • Dr. Jack Kevorkian aka Dr. Death o terminated people who wanted to die o was in jail for many years • Applying the Sociological Perspective o suicide appears to be an anti-social, individual act (so that we can associate them with the "other") • Durkheim o showed that suicide RATES  decrease with social solidarity (more social solidarity=less likely you will commit suicide)  increases with Anomie • who has a higher suicide rates? o catholics or Protestants? Social Solidarity • the idea of having ties that bind you to other people, particularly significant ties e.g. family ties Anomie • normlessness o there are no clear norms on how to behave • often commit amongst life changes e.g. moving creates anomie, new job, getting fired, divorce, illness, losing capability e.g walking • social change can be a produce of anomie Who has more social solidarity? Who ties families together usually? Who has really close friends? Women (this means women have more social solidarity, that would promote less suicide for men) -there is also more anomie for men Young vs. Old • young have more social solidarity (old, kids have moved away, more friends are dead) • old have more anomie (the big anomie is that they retire) • Males have higher suicide rates (males have more anomie and less social solidarity) • middle age and as you get older, more suicide Logic • if suicides were just the result of individual depression or mental illness, they would not vary systematically by group, time o this is an important idea (women have higher rates of depression, but they have lower suicide rates) Rural vs. Urban • urban have higher suicide rates o social solidarity is higher for rural o anomie is higher in urban areas (clearer rules in urban areas) Catholic vs. Protestant • Catholics have higher social solidarity • Norms are clearer for catholics, with protestants, have to figure out what to do • Protestantism is a much more individualistic religion Non-aboriginal vs. aboriginal • First Nation males have the highest suicide rates • First Nation females have higher suicide rates than all males US Military Suicides • 1 per day in Afghanistan • veterans o 6,500/year (25times the normal rate)  PTSD (1/2 million soldiers coming back from Afghanistan have PTSD)  social support  anomie: soldiers come back and they can't find jobs Durkheim and Suicide • egoistic and anomic suicide • altruistic suicide Annual Suicide Rates in Canada • rates have been climbing • Risde due to o social changes in society o changes in recording death certificates  it is not always clear whether it was a suicide or not *know poverty rate in canada, but do not need to know suicide rates in Canada The Rise of Sociologica
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