It is widely acknowledged that Emile Durkheim is counted as one of the prolific founding fathers of Social Studies as an academic discipline. His body of work radically changed how sociology was studied, and went to great lengths to separate the Sociological Studies from Psychological Studies.
Prior to ‘Suicide: A Study in Sociology (First Published 1897)’, it was generally accepted that suicide was an intensely personal act, impacting the individual only and as a direct result a psychological or moral problem specific to said individual. Durkheim, however, was of the opinion that whilst the act of ending one’s life was the result of psychological upsets such as trauma, anger, distress or severe apathy, the personal circumstances encountered by an individual could not explain the rate of suicide. Durkheim set out to measure and attempt to draw a correlation between the differing suicide rates between Catholics and Protestants, believing that as Catholics experience higher rates of social integration compared to Protestants, the rate of suicide in individuals that identified as Catholic would be lower than that of individuals that identified as Protestants.
Based on extensive research conducted over a number of years, Durkheim reached the conclusion that ‘the frequency of self-killing in society depends on two factors: social integration and regulation.’ (Bussu, 2013). The case study yielded the following results:
• Suicide rates are higher in men than women (although married women who remained childless for a number of years ended up with a high suicide rate).
• Suicide rates are higher for those who are single than those who are married.
• Suicide rates are higher for people without children than people with children.
• Suicide rates are higher among Protestants than Catholics and Jews.
• Suicide rates are higher among soldiers than civilians.
• Suicide rates are higher in times of peace than in times of war.
(Durkheim, 1895) good start but don’t...