David Emile Durkheim was born April 15, 1858, then later passed away on November 15, 1917. He became an advanced sociologist in his time and is considered one of the primary founders of modern science, but he mainly concerned himself with societies and how they carry on with modernity and social integration. One of Durkheim’s major works was Suicide (1897), he did a complete thorough study that changed the way we view suicide, and by also helping us understand why some individuals commit to such an act. Suicide was only seen as a sick, twisted act done by a disturbed person, but Durkheim discovered that there is a connection to social factors and suicide, he found that social relationships or the lack thereof, has a great influence on an individual’s thoughts of suicide and tendencies. Social integration is the range of societies bound by social networks, while social facts cause an individual’s choice in suicide but which social facts are related to what type of suicide and is Durkheim’s findings outdated?
Suicide in Wartime
Durkheim had a finding that soldiers committed suicide more often than a common nonmilitary individual while also that the rates of suicides were lower in times of war than in times of peace. In a short empirical study by Almir Fajkic, Orhan Lepara, Martin Voracek, Nestor D.Kapusta, Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, Leena Amiri, Gernot Sonneck, and Kanita Dervic, they entitled their report Child and Adolescent Suicides in Bosnia and Herzegovina Before and After the War (1992-1995) their main focal point of this study was to measure the rates of suicides in children and young adults before and after the war that started in March 1992 and ended in November 1995. They annualized data five years before the war (1986-1991) and five years after (2001-2006). During the war, suicide statistics were not recorded on record so the timeline between 1992 to 1995 are not available. All unnatural, obvious deaths that required a autopsy were handled by the police and forensic department, while the suicides were handled by the physicians who would fill in the certificate that would be sent to the police and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the 5 years before the war, the found 135 young adult and children suicides, 74 of them were boys, 61 of them girls, 20 of them were just children between the ages of 10 and 14. They discovered that there were no suicides of any child under 10 years old was registered, also 14 of the suicides were not considered verified suicides because they all drowned. After the war there were 65 suicides, 45 boys and 20 girls, 15 of them being only the ages of 10 and 14. The main finding the authors found with this study was that the rates of young adult and child suicide in Bosnia and Herzegovina has gone one third after the war, just like Durkheim’s theory of suicide predicts that the rate of suicide goes down in wartime.
Chickens and Eggs
In 1897, Durkheim wrote a book about four separate types of suicide: Anomic, Altruistic, Egoistic, and Fatalistic. He believed that suicide is caused by social factors that include: military, economical, religious and marital, he thought that all of these factors had a part in a person’s final decision to commit suicide. These were advanced findings back in the 1800s, but the times have changed. In Chris H. Canton’s letter “Chickens and eggs: letter across the Pacific” that was published in Crisis:The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, Cantor believed we needed to “revisit” Durkheim’s theory. Cantor discusses how research in the past couple of decades have put more relevant issues when it comes to suicide, for example, hopelessness and impulsivity. He also mentions how there has been little progress on understanding what the psychological roots of suicide are. When the author wrote this letter, it was towards the end of the Gulf War and he believed that there will be more violence to our problem solving response, he described it as “runaway horse” that is not driven by logic, but by emotions. In his letter, Cantor believed that nations that were more against war, that their suicide rates would decrease for a short period of time. The main point of his letter was that there are some greater social issues than suicide, especially war. In conclusion to his letter, Cantor tells his hatred of war and how it is an awful problem solving response, also he hopes one day that someone will study the suicide rates and the impact of war.