UNDERSTANDING SUICIDE

Reasearch says, about 7 lac people die of suicide annually, with approximately 132 suicides daily. An alarming rate, isn’t it? At times, we as humans may fail to understand what another individual might be facing. For every death by suicide, there are many more people who attempt it. Globally, ingestion of toxic substances, hanging and firearms are the most common methods of committing a suicide.

Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist and scholar, identified four different types of Suicides. Durkheim stated that, there are no societies in this world, where suicides do not occur. It includes, Egoistic Suicide, Altruistic Suicide, Anomic Suicide and Fatalistic Suicide. We can understand the core of these four forms of suicide, with further expansion of each term.

1. EGOISTIC SUICIDE

Durkheim states, when a man becomes socially isolated or feels that he has no place in society, he destroys himself. It is committed by people in order to find a route of escape from loneliness and introversion. Such individuals are devoid of proper care and empathy from the people in their lives. They are not socialists, hence they find it difficult to mingle in groups. This leads them to feel unhappy, alone and helpless in this world. Cutting off from the mainstream is the main cause of suicide in this case.

EXAMPLE – Person A, is an employee of a firm and is working most of the time in his day. He does not mingle with his relatives and friends or attend any social functions. Due to this, the ties with his family members are getting estranged day after day. His spouse argues with him regarding the same complaints. He now begins to feel alone. Ultimately, there arrives a day when he’s fed up with all the querulous complaints and fights, thus takes his own life.

2. ALTRUISTIC SUICIDE

Durkheim states, it is a sacrifice of one’s life to save or benefit others, for the betterment of society. It is quite an opposite of Egoistic Suicide. An over integration with society may lead to extreme benevolence in an individual. The individual regards suicide as a sacrifice that he/she is making for the good of a group or society as a whole. People committing suicide due to such a reason may consider their act as courageous and selfless.

Example – In the olden times, Indian women used to lay themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands in order to follow the cultural rituals.

3. ANOMIC SUICIDE

Durkheim states, a moral confusion within an individual and inability to comprehend social direction may cause an upheaval in the life of an individual. An individual feels bewildered about the position that he holds in society and goes through a lack of self regulation. A sudden change in societal dimensions or ups and downs in a person’s personal life, may contribute to disappointment in his/her life.

Example – A once wealthy businessman, invests in a venture, but the venture fails miserably, he suffers a tremendous loss and goes bankrupt. Unable to deal with the sudden change in status and overall situation, he plans to end his life.

4. FATALISTIC SUICIDE

Durkheim states, Fatalistic suicide is caused from excessive regulation, that of persons with futures, pitilessly blocked and passions violently choked by oppressive discipline. Burden of mental and physical oppression by other people on oneself may lead to a constant feeling of hopelessness. Finding oneself under strict norms, rules, high civil expectations and regulations may lead to depression in oneself, eventually causing the person to end his/her life.

Example – A famous singer feels extremely conscious about her image in the society. She experiences a burden from society’s expectations from her and thus fears failure and poor performance. She fails to handle this undue pressure and has thoughts about ending her life.

In my opinion, suicides do have societal roots. The reason for any person to commit suicide does not solely lie with him, but with the society as well. We are all directly or indirectly dependent on each other for materialistic and emotional needs. Materialistic needs can be fulfilled in some or the other way but emotional needs rarely come to the forefront. Rightly approaching those experiencing stressful situations, intervening and empathizing can greatly contribute in prevention. Suicides are preventable, with individual, community and national support.