Elyse asked in Social ScienceSociology · 4 weeks ago

How did Durkheim explain suicide?

1 Answer

  • 2 weeks ago

    He examined a multitude of potential variables and used those variables to come to an understanding of the reasons why people committed suicide.  He ultimately concluded that there were three main motivations for suicide: ego (borrowing from Freud), altruism, and anomie.  He also noted in a footnote that fatalism might be another factor in totalitarian regimes.  

    Egotistical suicide is suicide when an individual has a low level of integration into society - they feel they do not belong and therefore kill themselves (fatalitic suicide is kind of egotistical suicide to the extreme when a person has their identity stripped from them through totalitarianism, so its kind of an offshoot of egotistical suicide).  

    Altruistic suicide is when someone kills themselves for the benefit of others, like a person jumping on top of a grenade to save his fellow soldiers, or someone taking a bullet for someone else.  

    Anomic suicide is when society itself is weak and provides no guidance, particularly during traumatic and stressful situations.  For example, someone loses all of their wealth and does not know what to do next, so instead they kill themselves.

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