suicide among women in American society and how it relates to durkheim theory of suicide.
Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist who wrote a book titled Suicide in the year 1897. Durkheim’s theory of suicide argues that individuals who take their lives are compelled to do so for social reasons and not a single act as thought by scientists who existed before him. Durkheim’s study results showed that men had higher chances of committing than women and also that Protestants had a high probability of taking their lives as compared to the Catholics. From his study, it can be seen that people who had little social status were the ones who took their lives most. This theory of suicide has some major weaknesses because Durkheim depended on secondary data from earlier researchers such as Adolph Wagner, who were quite biased in making general conclusions (Pescosolido & Georgianna, 2009). Another weakness was that investigators and scholars later established that the high rate of Protestant suicide compared to the Catholics was limited to parts of Europe where German was the primary language. Durkheim’s theory however still holds today, and there are many cases of suicide in the modern world.
Durkheim defines suicide as any event of loss of human life arising from either a personal act or an unforeseen act of the victim, and they have knowledge that the product is a loss of life. There are four categories of suicide, and that is egoistic, altruistic, anomic and fatalistic suicide. Egoistic suicide arises when an individual has got no sense of belonging, and they detach themselves from their community. These individuals are characterized by no sense of belonging and hopelessness. According to Durkheim, the individual is so much engrossed in themselves, and it is suicide that could be associated with unmarried men. Altruistic suicide arises where the needs of the society are placed on an individual’s need, and this could be linked to people dying for their societies. Anomic suicide occurs when a person does not know what their role is in the society (Hamermesh & Soss, 2007). Fatalistic suicide is the last form and arises from individuals who have had their freedoms limited such as jailbirds. Individuals whose lives are under a certain form of control prefer death to living under rules and regulations.
Women in America suffer more from depression as compared to men. Depression is an emotional condition that is characterized by a loss of attention or desire in almost all tasks. This condition is further characterized by loss of appetite, changes in sleep patterns, lacking a sense of belonging and a difficulty in putting the brain into use. Statistics results show that over 17 million Americans who can be termed as adults are affected by depression every year. However, women are twice likely to suffer from depression than men. Women who have spouses are more likely to suffer from depression than their counterparts who are not married. Depression could arise from loss of jobs or even abuse whether physical or sexual. Depression is likely to lead to suicide. According to Durkheim’s findings, depression gives rise to a feeling of lack of a sense of belonging; therefore, women will commit egoistic suicide.
Domestic violence is another aspect that could contribute to death among American women. From a study conducted in America, over thirty-three percent of the women have either been physically or sexually abused by a spouse, boyfriend or cohabiting partner. Women are at an extreme danger of sexual assault than men; men, on the other hand, are the most perpetrators of sexual assault. Domestic violence is viewed as a form of betrayal by people you trust and treasure most in your life. Abuse is not limited to spouses but fathers or close male relatives who could take advantage of their daughters. One of the most difficult things to do is living with betrayal from a family or a close person (Pope, 2006). For most women, it is quite heartbreaking to come terms with the fact that the people you have treasured the most in your life are the ones who betray you by sexually or physically abusing you. Instead of seeking professional help from counselors most women will, therefore, take the easiest way out of their miseries and commit suicide. Women do not commit suicide willingly, but they are forced by social circumstances to take their lives.
Women are at a high risk of terminal diseases such as cancer because there are many cancerous cells associated with women such as breast, ovarian and cervical cancers than men cannot suffer from such cancers. People with a terminal disease change their lifestyles, and most of them will not face with the positivity or agility they used to have before they were diagnosed with a disease such as cancer. The process of treating these diseases is painful and also very expensive; some people cannot stand to see themselves suffer or even see the agony of their family members and so will opt to take their lives. According to Durkheim, this form of death can be termed as altruistic suicide. The needs of the society are placed before individuals need to live and go through treatment while family members watch in agony the suffering of their beloved. Therefore, many women will opt for altruistic suicide instead of their beloved going through so much stress as they are treated.
Substance abuse has also been another case why women commit suicide. About thirty percent of people who drink alcohol are female. Abuse of tranquilizers prescribed by doctors is high in women than in men. Drug abuse leads to addiction and addiction leads to hallucinations. Women celebrities in America have died due to excessive use of narcotics. About two-fifths of women in emergency rooms claim to have taken drugs so as to induce death. Drug abuse is against the law but with a rise in the number of women in drug addiction there is going to be an increase in the number of suicides or even attempts to commit suicide (Van & Joiner, 2010). According to Durkheim, this form of suicide can be classified as fatalistic suicide because the individuals are under the control of drugs.
From the suicides among American women Emile Durkheim’s theory that suicide is not a personal act, but a deed provoked by social aspects no matter how hidden they are. Suicide does not put into consideration your social status but the impact the society has on you. The only way to reduce the number of suicides among women is the whole society taking responsibility. Men contribute to the death of so many women, and they should, therefore, play a role in making the women’s lives better than they are currently. People should not commit suicide because they have been forced by circumstances, but everyone should take charge of their life and know that it is a gift from GOD. We all should value and respect life no matter the social conditions by preserving it and waiting to die naturally.
Pescosolido, B. A., & Georgianna, S. (2009). Durkheim, suicide, and religion: Toward a network theory of suicide. American Sociological Review, 33-48.
Hamermesh, D. S., & Soss, N. M. (2007). An economic theory of suicide. The journal of political economy, 83-98.
Van Orden, K. A., Witte, T. K., Cukrowicz, K. C., Braithwaite, S. R., Selby, E. A., & Joiner Jr, T. E. (2010). The interpersonal theory of suicide. Psychological review, 117(2), 575.
Pope, W. (2006). Durkheim’s suicide: A classic analyzed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.