SOC 101 2011-09-14
Sociology: the term was introduced by August Compte in 1834. Sociologists started studying the
society and people in order to make the society a better place. Especially during the Industrial
revolution, Sociology emerged.
Suicide by Emile Durkheim was published in late 19 century in Europe (1897)
- At the time, people thought mental illness influenced people to commit suicide
- He looked at different social groups (age, sex, religion, occupation, education, marital
status and material status)
- He found that the rate of mental disease leading to suicide among women was 2 times
higher than men. However, the suicide rate among men was 3-4 times higher among
men; women are generally engaged in more intimate social relations (family life)
- He studied suicide rates among religious groups in France (Catholics, Protestants and
Jews) and found that Jews had the highest rate of mental illness but the lowest suicide
rate. On the other hand, Protestants had the lowest mental illness rate but had the
highest suicide rate. Catholics are somewhere in between.
Durkheim explained that due to the constant persecution Jews experienced throughout
the history, they formed a very close-knit social solidarity. On the other hand, Protestants
have no central religious authority (Pope) and therefore has a loose-knit social solidarity,
which leads to a high suicide rate.
- “Different categories of the population are characterized by „Social Solidarities‟:
independent of how they are feeling and what they are thinking, the social condition that
one lives in effects the way they function and think.
- There are outer sources than people‟s inner minds that affect the way they think.
- People living in environment with higher social solidarity have less chances of committing
- Suicide rate increases with age: weaker social solidarity due to isolation (often death of a
spouse or children moving out of their homes, etc.)
Egoistic Suicide: suicide due to a sense of not belonging;
lack of integration into society due to weak social ties
Anomic Suicide: suicide due to moral disorder- limitless
desires and abundance of disappointments; when the
sense of “norm” of the individual becomes vague due to
misinforming mass media.
Altruistic Suicide: Occurs in extremely close-knit societies.
It is found when the goal of the community is more
important than the goal of an individual. One is willing
Characteristics of a Low solidarity group to be a martyr for others. 2
- Lack of emotional support and cultural guidelines
- More prone to commit suicide, compared to others, if they experience distress
- Sociologists try to identify the types of group behavior that are interesti