Sociology Index


Suicide is the act of intentionally killing oneself as a result of depression, ego, anomie, altruism or other desperate situation. Suicide has also been a form of protest against society. Medically assisted suicide referred to as euthanasia assisted suicide is a controversial ethical issue involving people who are terminally ill. Kamikaze and suicide bombing are common military or terrorism tactic. Social suicide can be explained only sociologically. Even successful models who committed suicide have done so due to depression, ego and anomie. In India, suicide is an emerging and serious public health issue. In 2019, Maharashtra recorded highest number of deaths by suicide followed by Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka. About 800,000 people die by suicide worldwide every year. 1,39,123 Indians committed suicide in 2019.

David Emile Durkheim argued against Psychological Reductionism in his study of suicide, by demonstrating, that even after providing a psychological explanation for individual acts of suicide there was something still to account for: the difference in suicide rates between societies. 30 percent of all suicides worldwide occur in India and China. In America more than 70% of those people who commit suicide give warning signs before taking their own life. It is easy to recognize the warning signs of suicide in family, friends, co-workers, and patients, and respond as you would do with any medical emergency. Firearms are the most common method for suicide.

Types Of Suicide

Altruistic Suicide

Egoistic Suicide

Anomic Suicide

Fatalistic Suicide 

Suicides in India

In India, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) started collating reports on suicides in 1967. According to the 'Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India 2019' report released by the National Crimes Record Bureau, 5,957 farmers/cultivators and 4,324 agricultural labourers died by suicide last year, accounting for 7.4% of total suicides. Five states, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, cumulatively account for 49.5% of the suicides in the country. Every four minutes, a distraught person died by suicide in India, which has reported a 3.4% increase in people taking their own lives in 2019. Among the 53 mega cities with over 10 lakh population, Chennai (2,461), Delhi City (2,423), Bengaluru (2,081) and Mumbai (1,229) have reported higher numbers of suicides. These four cities together have reported almost 36.6% (22,390) of the total suicides. Altogether, 1,39,123 people, including 41,493 women and 17 transgenders, took their own lives in the year 2019 compared to 1,34,516 in the year 2018.

In India suicide has a euphemistic name Sati. A Hindu funeral practice where the widow commits suicide by immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre, is still prevalent in many parts of India, but goes unreported because of tacit support of religious and other powerful people. The moral constitution of society establishes the contingent of voluntary deaths.

Asking whether euthanasia during the Third Reich is relevant to contemporary debates about physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia is dismissed as inflammatory. Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Before, During, and After the Holocaust explores the history of euthanasia before and during the Third Reich in depth and demonstrate how Nazi physicians incorporated mainstream Western philosophy, eugenics, population medicine, prevention, and other medical ideas into their ideology.

The European Suicide - A research project at the Department of Sociology, Stockholm University. Suicide mortality is investigated in an all European perspectives. On this site you'll find information on the status of Durkheim's theorie of suicide and Parsons' theory of action systems.

Are Socioeconomic Factors Valid Determinants of Suicide? Controlling for National Cultures of Suicide with Fixed-Effects Estimation - Eric Neumayer, London School of Economics and Political Science. This article's analysis employs a range of economic and social explanatory variables based on economic as well as Durkheimian sociological theory in fixed-effects and random-effects estimation of age-standardized suicide rates in a large panel of up to 68 countries during the period 1980 to 1999. Economic and social factors affect cross-country differences in suicide rates in accordance with theory. The fixed-effects estimation results do not differ systematically from the random-effects results.

Suicide Ideation and Acculturation among Low Socioeconomic Status Mexican American Adolescents - Katherine M. Rasmussen, Charles Negy, Ralph Carlson, JoAnn Mitchell Burns, University of Texas-Pan American.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether Mexican American adolescents' suicide ideation could be predicted from their acculturation levels. Although adolescents' acculturation levels did not correlate independently with suicide ideation scores, acculturation did significantly (and positively) predict suicide ideation when combined with depressive symptoms and low self-esteem.

A Primer on Rational Suicide and Other Forms of Hastened Death 
James L. Werth, Jr., American Psychological Association AIDS Policy Congressional Fellow, Daniel J. Holdwick, Jr., St. Lawrence University.
An overview of the major mental health issues involved in the debate over rational suicide and other forms of hastened death. Covers the arguments for including counseling psychologists and other mental health professionals in discussions about hastened death. Provides direction for those counseling psychologists who are working with persons who may be rational in their decisions to hasten death.

Physician-Assisted Suicide 
Lois Snyder, JD; Daniel P. Sulmasy, OFM, MD, PhD, for the Ethics and Human Rights Committee, American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine, 7 August 2001, Volume 135 Issue 3, Pages 209-216.
Medical professional codes have long prohibited physician involvement in assisting a patient's suicide. Despite ethical and legal prohibitions, calls for the liberalization of this ban have grown. In addressing such a issue, physicians, policymakers, and society must fully consider the needs of patients, the vulnerability of particular patient groups, issues of trust and professionalism, and the complexities of end-of-life health care. Physician-assisted suicide is prominent among the issues that define our professional norms and codes of ethics.

Suicide among elders: a Durkheimian proposal
Abstract: This article proposes a model based on Durkheim’s suicide framework as a tool for enhancing gerontological practitioner’s ability to detect and prevent suicide among elders. Although many suicide detection tools are based on psychological factors, this model focuses on identifying environmental stressors that may increase psychological stressors. To illustrate our concepts, we use case files from one author’s experience as a practicing social worker in nursing homes. We offer this model not as a replacement for psychological detection tools, but as an additional tool for practitioners who work to identify and prevent suicides among the elderly. 

Books on Suicide

Durkheim's Suicide: A Century of Research and Debate - Edited By W.S.F. Pickering, Geoffrey Walford. (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought) Durkeim's book on suicide, first published in 1897. Durkeim's book on suicide, first published in 1897, is widely regarded as a classic text, and is essential reading for any student of Durkheim's thought and sociological method. This book examines the continuing importance of Durkheim's methodology. The wide-ranging chapters cover such issues as the use of statistics, explanation of suicide, anomie and religion and the morality of suicide. It will be of vital interest to any serious scholar of Durkheim's thought and to the sociologist looking for a fresh methodological perspective.