Analyzing Suicide in the United States

Analyzing Suicide in the United States - Lauren Chambers Dr...

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Lauren Chambers Dr. Cohn SOCI 205-970 31 March 2008 Analyzing Suicide in the United States Durkheim’s Findings Suicide is the eleventh most common cause of death in the United States. Despite this, though, it is commonly misunderstood or misinterpreted. The vast majority of people believe that suicide is either a response to human unhappiness or the manifestation of mental illness. According to Emile Durkheim, this is not the case. In Suicide , one of the most influential books ever written in the field of sociology, Emile Durkheim uses statistical evidence of the time to dispel incorrect beliefs about suicide and using such data, develops new theories regarding the issue. Durkheim found a number of interesting things concerning suicide as he delved into the statistical evidence he used to write his book. Here I shall list just a few of his many findings. First, there is little to no correlation between suicide and mental illness. Indeed, in the vast majority of cases, individuals who have committed suicide did not seem to have excessive amounts of stress, disjuncture from reality, substance abuse, or any other imbalance. Next, unhappiness is rarely the cause for suicide. This is particularly evident among those who commit suicide despite have just achieved something substantial, whether that be a promotion, getting married, or winning the lottery. Everyone is deeply unhappy at some point in time, but it is obvious that not everyone commits suicide. What, then, makes the difference? Durkheim argues that what determines whether or not a person will kill himself during a particularly low period is the moral obligations of that individual. In other words, the denser a person’s social network, the lower the probability of that person committing suicide. This may be for a number of reasons. A person with a rich social network is more likely to spend a greater
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course SOCI 205 taught by Professor Evans during the Spring '08 term at Texas A&M.

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Analyzing Suicide in the United States - Lauren Chambers Dr...

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