Emile Durkheim was a French theorist who focused on different aspects of human beings including suicide. He came up with four different forms of suicide which are: egoistic, altruistic, anomic, and fatalistic. He states that suicide is always the act of a person who would much rather choose death over life, but what makes each form of suicide different is what leads the person to want to take their life (Applerouth 133). It does not seem plausible that a theory that was given in the late 1800’s can still apply to this day and age. Although there are several who believe that there is just one form of suicide, it is important not to overlook the relevance of the theories of altruistic and fatalistic suicide and how those theories still apply in the 21st century.
I. Four Forms of Suicide
Durkheim wrote a book called “Suicide: A Study in Sociology” where he discusses in detail his methodical thinking and approach to the four forms of suicide. Eugene Hynes summarizes the context of each form of suicide. He states:
“Fatalism is shown as the suicide of persons with “futures pitilessly blocked and passions violently choked by oppressive discipline”. Anomic suicides result from a failure to control the passions and are therefore angry and violent. Egoistic suicide results from too little direction toward social identity and is characterized by “dreamy melancholy” “self-complacence” and “indifference”. Altruistic suicides are committed with deliberate energy and a sense of duty, perhaps enthusiasm” (90).
The best way to think about each form of suicide is by creating a Cartesian Plane and to remember each quadrant as they will be labeled to clarify how each suicide fits into Durkheim’s theory of suicide. In Quadrant I, fatalism is assigned and it can be explained as a person being ruled too strong, sort of, like slavery. In Quadrant II, altruistic suicide is place which has been explained as dying for the purpose of others since the person has already esteemed themselves as having no value. In Quadrant III lies anomic suicide which can be described as a suicide that happens in a situation that has just happened to appear like the stock market crash in 1929. In Quadrant IV is the suicide that is most familiar to others—egoistic suicide. For the X-axis on the left hand side, it would be labeled as having insufficient regulation and on the other extreme would be having the regulation necessary to keep things at a normal level. On the Y-axis starting from the top it would be labeled as a strong integration or as having a tight knit group and on the other extreme would be having an extremely weak attachment or a very weak integration with their group. By creating this diagram, it is easy to see how each aspect gets affected if they are too extreme on either end, but how ultimately, wherever the criteria fits, it still explains how Durkheim was made aware about not one type of suicide but four distinct suicides and the causes behind each.
There are two...