Suicide

Emile Durkheim’s Suicide was obviously impactful for being the first published work of sociological research using the scientific method, and breaking all the ground that it did there. However, I felt its resonance extended beyond that in much more potent ways with regard to it being of sociological import. These are the ways it acted to not only destigmatize suicide and those who would opt for this route, but the way it forced society to take responsibility for its own hands in this course of action.

Now I know this was no immediate win for those suffering and whom might ultimately succumb to this path, and that still to this day there remains a stigma that is not necessarily accepting of Durkheim’s Functionalist perspective that suicide actually serves or fulfills a social need, but it was more than a proverbial game changer in how we thought about suicide overall. That means that what it would do with some immediacy is start a shift in how we approach and deal with suicidal thoughts and tendencies and allow for better treatment and counseling options to be developed and implemented. Because you cannot begin to combat or address an issue or problem (depending on if you are trying to approach it individually or societally), until you understand its fundamental causes.

Now I am not certain if this was Durkheim’s intention or not, but it certainly is an impact that one could consider having deep sociological reach and influence. Psychologically speaking as well, I can see where once society moves its perspective from a place of the suicidal being considered somehow deficient, and instead being viewed as caused not internally, but from an incapacity to properly deal with, and/or process social stressors in a healthy and functional manner, that the perceptions (an in turn treatment) of those who would contemplate suicide improved. This would furthermore improve the circumstances they faced daily, dulling the edge of isolation that one might have otherwise felt in dealing with these one-time stigmatized thoughts that they would so often suffer through silently as a result.

With Durkheim’s assertions that suicides often result as a loss of control over one’s own life increases, one finds perhaps this truth reflected in the current thirty high that the U.S. is experiencing in suicide rates (source) at a time in our culture where more and more information is becoming available via the internet and growing internet accessibility. Long hidden truths about our social order and the privilege that has helped shape and guide our social achievements are coming to light. As a result, the amount of influence wielded over our lives and choices from outside forces is being more widely recognized, and perhaps in these somewhat dark and Durkheimian terms, is being responded to.