1 - Introduction

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12 Oct 2011

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Suicide written by one of the founding fathers of Soc, Durkheim
recognized most people think of it as a very personal and non-social action. Even anti-social.
One of the first soc profs
Suc’s result of despair, deeply psych issue.
Demonstrated it had deep soc causes peop. unaware of.
Looked at diff pop. categories for explanations, maybe people’s minds as cause.
Rate = number of cases per 1000/100000 people.
Fig our not why indiv might do it, but rather why the rate of suic. might differ among different
categories of the population. Women, men, diff religions, diff age categories. Found no
relationship between the rate of mental illness and the rate of suic.
Found women are more than 2x as likely as men to be admitted to mental insti. but had only 1/3
suic rate of men in France in 19th century. Opposite what experts might expect.
Religion - highest mental illness = Jews, but not as high suic. rate Cath. more likely to commit
Married less likely. Older more likely
Answer, in 1899 book. The propensity to commit suicide is affected by the level of social
solidarity of the groups in which one happens to be embedded.
Men have higher suic rate, n late 19th cent France since most women spent their lives busy with
the intimate details of fam life. Taking care of children, elderly, spouse. Have frequent and
intense intimate reactions with number of people in immediate and extended fams. Men went
toff to work and their relationships were not so intimate, intense, no sharing, not as frequent.
Jews have low suic. rtes because prosecuted minority and as a result, they’ve become very
tightly bound to one another. Share to a very high degree values, beliefs, and amoral. At the
time rarely interacted with people outside their groups.
Protestants not subject to persecution, Protestantism based on notion each individual must find
own path to God, individualistic. Catholics are more collectivists, o Pros. have higher suic rate.
Young people involved, aged people, friends, spouses, die, Neglected by fam, Solitary existence
breaks ties wth society.
Circumstances shape to some degree what you’ll do with your live.
How social forces work on you and others.
^ only half the story.
There’s diff types of suic.
Altruistic. People sometimes kill themselves for the good of the group in which they belong.
Like a soldier throwing himself on top on had grenade to save his buddies. Flying plane into
towers = altruistic suic.
Where levels of soc solidarity are extremely high = higher rates of altruistic suic. Not a linear
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