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7 Durkheim - S u Z C Zadé’ By Emile Dzw/t/wim A STUDY IN...

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Unformatted text preview: S u Z C Zadé’ By Emile Dzw/t/wim A STUDY IN SOCIOLOGY TRANSLATED BY JOHN A. SPAULDING AND GEORGE SIMPSON EDITED WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY GEORGE SIMPSON fr» THE FREE PRESS 2 40 SU ICEBE- mental state, renounces life for a slight insult done him or merely to express his contempt for existence; to the bankrupt who prefers not to survive his disgrace; and finally to the many soldiers who every year increase the numbers of voluntary deaths? All these cases have for their root the same state of altruism which is equally the cause of what might be called heroic suicide. Shall they alone he placed among the ranks of suicides and only those excluded whose motive is particularly pure? But first, according to what standard will the division he made? When does a motive cease to be suffi- ciently praiseworthy for the act it determines to be called suicide? Moreover, by separating these two classes of facts radically from each other, we inevitably misjudge their nature: For the essential characteristics of the type are clearest in obligatory altruistic suicide. Other varieties are only derivative forms. Either a considerable num- ber of instructive phenomena will be eliminated or, if not all are eliminated, not only will a purely arbitrary choice be the only one possible among them, but it will be impossible to detect the common stock to which those that are retained belong. Such is the risk we incur in making the definition of suicide depend on the subjective feelings it inspires. Besides, not even the reasons for the sentiment thought to justify this exclusion are well founded. The fact is stressed that the motives of certain altruistic suicides reappear in slightly different forms as the basis of actions regarded by everyone as moral. But is egoistic suicide any different? Has not the sentiment of individual autonomy its own morality as well as the opposite sentiment? If the latter serves as foundation to a kind of courage, strengthening and even harden- ing the heart, the other softens and moves it to pity. \‘C’here altru- istic suicide is prevalent, man is always ready to give his life; how- ever, at the same time, he sets no more value on that of another. On the contrary, when he rates individual personality above all other ends, he respects it in others. His cult for it makes him suffer from all that minimizes it even among his fellows. A broader sympathy for human suffering succeeds the fanatical devotions of primitive times. Every sort of suicide is then merely the exaggerated or de- flected form of a virtue. In that case, however, the way they affect the moral conscience does not sufficiently difl‘erentiate them to justify their being separated into different types. CHAPTER 5 ANQMIQ SUImDE act.’ 'ET socrety .13. not only something attracting the sentiments and 1V! res of mchvrduals With unequal. force. It is also a power con- g . . ’4 y g t I It is a well~known fact tl ' ' t rat economic crises have a ' ‘ effect on the suicidal tendency. f1 aggffl‘vatlflg helnhyrenna, in 1873 a financial crisis occurred which reached its 1g in 1874; the number of suicides immediately rose. From 14.; in 1872,.they rose to 153 in 1873 and 216 in 1874 The incre . in 1874 is 53 per cent1 above 1872 and 41 per cent above 18ase What proves this catastrophe to have been the sole cause of Eh} increase is the special prominence of the increase when the crisis . e acute, or during the first four months of 1874. From Januar ' “:5 April 30 there had been 48 suicides in 187I, 44. in 18' 2 i I '0 1873; there were 73 in 1874. The increase is 70 per c1nl24§flm same crrsrs occurring at the same time in Frankfurt—on—Main 13 duced the same effects there. In the years before 1874 aaisuiciidc’- were committed annually on the average" in 1874 thdre were ‘35 or 45 per cent more. " i 32’ B The Salmons crash 'is unforgotten which took place on the Paris ourse uring the Winter of 1882. Its consequences were felt not 1 Durkheim incorrecrl ' ' y gives this ti re —— 2 In 18:74 over 1873.-—~Ed. gu as SI per cent. Ed‘ 241 SUICIDE: 2 42 only in Paris but throughout France. From 1874 to 1886 the average annual increase was only 2 per cent; in 1882 it was 7 per cen£7 Moreover, it was unequally distributed among the different timestp year, occurring principally during the first three months or at 61:: very time of the crash. \Within these three months alone 59 perfc . of the total rise occurred. 80 distinctly is the rise the result‘o En usual circumstances that it not only is not encountered in 1561 1 u: has disappeared in 1885, although on the whole the latter year rat a few more suicides than the preceding one: 1881 1882 ,, 1883 . - A» W 7 267 6,741 7,213 (plus 7%?! 1,604 [glistiltllirhimrimnths 1,589 1,770 (plus “90) , This relation is found not only in some exceptional cases, but is the rule. The number of bankruptcies is a barometerr of adequate sensitivity, reflecting the variations of economic life. \Z/hen :1 :eycgni‘ crease abruptly from year to year, some serious distur ance ( svm .— tainly occurred. From 1845 to 1869 there-were sudden rises, sy p tomatic of crises, on three occasions. ‘X/hile the annual increase in the number of bankruptcies during this period is 3.2 per cent, été is 26 per cent in 1847, 37 per cent in 1854 and 20 per cent in 1 1;. At these three moments, there is also to be observed an unusrpr y rapid rise in the number of suicides. \‘C’hile the average annua tip!-1 crease during these 24 years 1:15 only 2 pter cen8t,611t was 17 per cen nt in 18 an er cen 1n 1 . . might flopiihiiet do thesgdcrises 2w: their influence? Is I: becapse they increase poverty by causing public wealth to fluctuate. lslli et'rrgoges readily renounced as it becomes more difficult? The 61;}? anadio But seductively simple; and it agrees With the popular idea 0 surcr e. "‘ . ' db facts. _ . “12:22:???th vollhntary deaths increased because life was becoming more difficult, they should diminish perceptibly as comforft indefeases. New, although when the price of the most necessary op s 315:3 excessively, suicides generally do the same, they are-not ’ounh c: fall below the average in the opposite case. In Prussra, in 1330 w ead was quoted at the lowest point it reached durlng the entirehpeneof of 1848s81; it was at 6.91 marks per so kilograms; yet at t is V 6y time suicides rose from 1,327 where they were-in 1849 to'1,73h, or an increase of 13 per cent, and continued to increase during t e , “A, Missediaaiaiawsawmww-+~r~vrvr~esw"z . a MWWMWWWW ,wmmmw .. m,“ .At Hw- ANOMIC SUICIDE 24g years 1851, 1852 and 1855 although the cheap market held. In 1858—39 a new fall took place; yet suicides rose from 2,038 in 1857 to 2,126 in 1858, and to 2,146 in 1859. From 1863 to 1866 prices which had reached 11.04 marks in 1861 fell progressively to 7.95 marks in 1864 and remained very reasonable for the whole period; suicides during the same time increased 17 per cent (2,112 in 1862, 2,485 in 1866).3 Similar facts are observed in Bavaria. According to a curve constructed by Mayr 4 for the period 18 35—61, the price of rye was lowest during the years 1857-58 and 1858~59; now suicides, which in 1857 numbered only 286, rose to 329 in 1858, to 387 in 1859. The same phenomenon had already occurred during the years 1848—50; at that time wheat had been very cheap in Bavaria as well as throughout Europe. Yet, in spite of a slight temporary drop due to political events, which we have mentioned, suicides remained at the same level. There were 217 in 1847, there were still 215 in 1848, and if they dropped for a moment to 189 in 1849, they rose again in 1850 and reached 250. So far is the increase in poverty from causing the increase in _ suicide that even fortunate crises, the effect of which is abruptly to enhance a country’s prosperity, affect suicide like‘economic disasters. The conquest of Rome by Victor~Emmanuel in 1870, by definitely forming the basis of Italian unity, was the starting point for the country of a process of growth which is making it one of the great powers of Europe. Trade and industry received a sharp stimulus from it and surprisingly rapid changes took place. \Whereas in 1876, 4,459 steam boilers with a total of 54,000 horse-power were enough for industrial needs, the number of machines in 1887 was 9,983 and their horsepower of 167,000 was threefold more. Of course the amount of production rose proportionately during the same time.5 Trade followed the same rising course; not only did the mer- chant marine, communications and transportation develop, but the number of persons and things transported dOubled.8 As this generall r heightened activity caused angincrease-in salaries (an increase of 35 per cent is estimated to have taken place from 1875 to 1889), 3 See Starck, Verb/5511517 and Vergelwn in Prelzrrm, Berlin, 1884., p. 55. 4 Die Geratzmfirrigéeit im Cerei/rclmflrlel:en, p. 545. 5 See Fornasari di Verce, La criminalila e 1:? w'cmde economic/75 d’Imlia, Turin I894, pp. 77-83. 611211, pp. 108-117. SUICIDE .244. . . . . f the material comfort of workers rose, espplcmlly 51266 thteO P312112- ' time.7 Fina y, accor mg bread was falling at the same . ‘ _ n tions by Bodio, private wealth rose from 45 and .a ‘half Billions tie the average during the period 1875430 to. 51 billions8 uring years 1880~85 and 54 billions and a half in f188.5730. is Observed ‘i ' ' the number 0 surcr es Now an unusual increase in 8 the 1 ' ' ‘ ' nce. From 1866 to 1 70 y arallel With this collective renaissa . cent. :’€I€ roughly stable; from 187: to x877 they increased 36 per There were in . . . n 1864—70 29 suicides per million 1874 3,7 sung: p: 2:31pm , r871 51 Suicides per million 1875 34 Sum. 'dei set million i 1872 33. suicides per million 1876 36.5 surcid 8 per million 1873 36 suicides per million 1877 40.6 surcr e p . And since then the movement has continued. The total figure, I in i877 was 1,465 in 1889, a new increase of 28 percent. In I51:19Prussia the same phenomenon occurred on two occasions. my 1866 the kingdom received a first enlargementflthangex: dseygon ' er ' V “' ' ng the head 0 t e on e m -ortant rovrnces, wnile becomi . V ; as bf pthe Nofith. Immediately this growth in gloryagd pplwei: :1qu accompanied by a sudden rise in the number of surcr es. era‘ 6 been 123 suicides per million during the pgriog 1815616}: pfie::vyeargs ' = s 18 1— 5. n 7 , Year and onl’ 122 during the year 1866A70 in Spite of the drop in 1870, the average rosphtot 13:73:11: , ' ' ~ ' 1* followed victory, was a in ‘ ' car 186 , which immediate}. . . r _ i :uicide achieved the highest pomt it had reached Since 12:16 \I :5; i: cide per 5 452 inhabitants, while in 1864 there was ony one 8, . . _ Pegrilh:)morrow of the war of 1870 a new accessmn of good it}: tune took place. Germany was unified and placgd1 Entirphy unbliC ‘ 5 war indemnity a e to e pu Prussran hegemony. An enormou .d The devemp- ‘ tr~ made great stri es. realth; commerce and indus y. . . :hent of suicide was never so rapid. From 1875 to 1886 it increased cases to 6,212. 0 er cent from 3,278 . e 9 Wp’orld dxpositions, when successful, are consrdered favorabl events in the existence of a society. They stimulate busmess, brgilii more money into the country and are thought to increase pu 7 i . (- o . . _ ‘ 5 {lilijinpcieagse is less during the period 1885mm because of a financml crisis ANOMIC SUICIDE 24$ prosperity, especially in the city where they take place. Yet, quite possibly, they ultimately take their toll in a con ’ 3 ' ber of suicides. Especially does this seem to have been true of the Exposition of 1878. The rise that year was the highest occurring between 1874 and 1886. it was 8 per cent, that is, higher than the one caused by the crash of 1882. And what almost proves the Expo sition to have been the cause of this increase is that 86 per cent of it took place precisely during the six months of the Exposition. In 1889 things were not identical al possibly the Boulanger crisis neutralized Exposition by its depressive influence on t tainly at Paris, although the political feel the same effect as in the rest of the country, things happened as in 1878. For the 7 months of the Exposition, suicides increased almost IO per cent, 9.66 to be exact, while through the remainder of the year they were below what: they had been in 1888 and what t1 1 over France. But quite the contrary effects of the he growth of suicides. Cer« ing aroused must have had 16y afterwards were in 1890. 1888 1889 1890 The seven months of the Exposition 517 567 540 The five other months 319 3]! 356 It may well be that but for the Boulanger influence the rise would have been greater. What proves still more conclusively that economic distress does not have the aggravating influence often attributed to it, is that it tends rather to produce the opposite effect. There is very little suicide in Ireland, where the peasantry leads so wretched a life. Poverty— stricken Calabria has almost no suicides; Spain has a tenth as many as France. Poverty may even be considered a protection. In the vari- ous French departments the more people there are who have in— dependent means, the more numerous are suicides. Average Number of Pen sons of independent Means per 1,000 lnhohiv fonts in Each Group of Deporfmenfs (7885) Departments Where, per 100,000 Inhabitants, Suicides Were Committed (7878—1887) Suicides Number of Departments From 48 to 43 S 127 From 38 to 31 6 73 From 30 to 24 6 59 From 23 to 18 '15 59 From 17 to 13 18 49 From 12 to 8 25 49 From 7 in 3 . 10 42 SUICIDE 3,46 Comparison of the maps confirms that of the averages (see fi,.endixV. . . . .. .' iii}; thereforie industrial or finanCial crises increase suicide; thlSthl: not because they cause poverty, since crises of pgoipelrjity 53:): the v ' ' crises that is, is ur ance same result; it 15 because they are , . . _ h Oh it ' ' ‘ f equilibrium, even t oub collective order.9 Every disturbance o , . -_ . n achieves greater comfort and a heightening of genergl Vittillll}; riaake I ' men ‘ . death. \‘Vhenever serious rea ius impulse to voluntary d sudden ngth or r ' ' 1 order whether or not ue to a PIL‘CE m the 5003 i 1 ' l' d to self-destruc- ' re more inc me 0 an unex ected catastrophe, men a . . iion How 1is this possible? How can something consudered generally ' a to improve existence serve to detach menhfrom. it. ujmd For the answer, some preliminary considerations are req . ll No living being can be happy or even exist mules: hi: peeclfegg: ‘ ' ' ' ns. In other wor s, 1 us sufhcrently proportioned to his mea 1 methin of a ' be granted, or even mere y so g require more than can . . . d can only ' ' der continual friction an . different sort, they Wlll be no , “1 t am ' ' ' ' ,.ble of production “It iou p function ainfully. Movements incapa . tend notPto be reproduced. Unsatisfied tendencres atrophy, andi :1: the impulse to live is merely the result of all the rest, it is boun . aken as the others relax. . . , . . _ weln the animal, at least in a normal condition, this equalibriucrln is established with automatic spontaneity because the anirppl t1epen1 s (in purely material conditions. All the organism needs is t latl ie 5:325 plies of substance and energy constantly employed in the it: grime, should be periodically renewed by eqiiivalcpnt quagtlijties, t‘tzncepin its ' hen the voi create y exrs ment be equivalent to use. W . h. fume; ’ . ' l satisfied, asks not mg i . own resources is filled, the anima', . . e Other ’ ' flicrently developed to imagin Its ower of reflection is notsu ' nd end: than those implicit in its physrcal nature. On the other ha , suicides, the attempt has been the escape‘valve of poverty, is are numerous where parallel- ” To prove that an increase in prosperity diminishes made to show that they become less when emigration, P . P ’ '3 i I 5 WIdElY 13(l‘C6Cl 3CC LCgOVt, p . 25 2 Q . I; ll Case 6 S I! rusteac ”l 156} 5? {ICE ()Il OHS 6X15! leiWEeIl tile {‘30. III Italy from IS it! '3 t! l i . A 7 f) . . . [f e habitants to 335, a figure itse e ' ts rose from 76 per roo,ooo in . . ' the ndniiiiietovf/e‘efinfisi; and 1889. At the same time surcrdes did not cease to grow excee e . in numbers. Wa_ ANOMIC SUICIDE 247 as the work demanded of each organ itself depends on the general state of vital energy and the needs of organic equilibrium, use is regulated in turn by replacement and the balance is automatic. The limits of one are those of the other; both are fundamental to the constitution of the existence in question, which cannot exceed them. This is not the case with man, because most of his needs are not dependent on his body or not to the same degree. Strictly speaking, we may consider that the quantity of material supplies necessary to the physical maintenance of a human life is subject to computation, though this be less exact than in the preceding case and a wider margin left for the free combinations of the will; for beyond the indispensable minimum which satisfies nature when instinctive, a more awakened reflection suggests better conditions, seemingly cle— sirable ends craving fulfillment. Such appetites, however, admittedly sooner or later reach a limit which they cannot pass. But how deter— mine the quantity of well-being, comfort or luxury legitimately to be craved by a human being? Nothing appears in man’s organic nor in his psychologiCal constitution which sets a limit to such tendencies. The functioning of individual life does not require them to cease at one point rather than at another; the proof being that they have constantly increased since the beginnings of history, receiving more and morecomplete satisfaction, yet with no weakening of average health. Above all, how establish their proper variation with different conditions of life, occupations, relative importance of services, etc? In no society are they equally satisfied in the different stages of the social hierarchy. Yet human nature is substantially the same among all men, in its essential qualities. It is not human nature which can assign the variable limits necessary to our needs. They are thus unlimited so far as they depend on the individual alone. lrre- spective of any external regulatory force, our capacity for feeling is in itself an insatiable and bottomless abyss. But if nothing external can restrain this capacity, it can only be a source of torment to itself. Unlimited desires are insatiable by defini- tion and insatiability is rightly considered a sign of morbidity. Be~ ing unlimited, they constantly and infinitely surpass the means at their command; they cannot be quenched. Inextinguishable thirst is constantly renewed torture. It has been claimed, indeed, that human activity naturally aspires beyond assignable limits and sets itself un— 248 SUICIDE attainable goals. But how can such an undetermined state be any more reconciled with the conditions of mental life than with the demands of physical life? All man’s pleasure in acting, moving and exerting himself implies the sense that his efforts are not in vain and that by walking he has advanced. However, one does not ad. vance when one walks toward no goal, ormwhich is the same thing “when his goal is infinity. Since the distance between us and it is always the same, Whatever road we take, we might as well have made the motions without progress from the spot. Even our glances behind and Out feeling of pride at the distance covered can cause only do ceptive satisfaction, since the remaining distance is not proportion- ately reduced. To pursue a goal which is by definition unattainable is to condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness. Of course, man may hope contrary to all reason, and hope has its pleasures even when unreasonable. It may sustain him for a time; but it cannot survive the repeated disappointments of experience indefinitely. What more can the future offer him than the past, since he can never reach a tenable condition nor even approach the glimpsed ideal? Thus, the more one has, t...
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