A sociological explanation of suicidal behaviour

Modified: 1st Jan 2015
Wordcount: 1698 words

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The social facts surround us everywhere and affect our lives. To begin with, the social fact is a single, socially significant event or a set of homogeneous events that are typical for some areas of social life, or specific to certain social processes. The main attributes of the social facts are their independence, objective existence, and their coercive nature, i.e. an ability to exert the external pressure on the individual. It is a collective representation of the facts or a collective consciousness. The social facts are a course of actions, ways of thinking and feeling that exist outside the individual (i.e. objectively). These factors possess the normative coercive power in relation to him/her. Into the acknowledgement of the above stated information about social facts it is necessary to add that according to Faraganis (2000), “by a social fact, Durkheim (as a person who defined the social fact in sociology) is referring to facts, concepts, expectations that come not from individual responses and preferences, but that come from the social community which socializes each of its members. Although we might embrace the normative community behavior and share its values, we are constrained by its very existence.”

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The main purpose of this work is to reveal a sociological explanation about a social fact. Among different social facts, it is possible to emphasize the pathological social fact associated with the social problems, which is called suicide. The term suicide is related to the social fact because it is a single public event, typically for one or another sphere of real life. The suicide rate is one of the most important sociological exponents of the society’s well-being. Global science has been already established that the act of suicide accumulated a number of the factors: social, economic, political, philosophical, psychological, and religious.

The rate of suicide in Canada is historically similar to or slightly higher than in the USA. Around 3800 suicides occur in Canada each year.

Suicide is a deliberate act of removal from life under the influence of acute traumatic situations in which life itself loses its meaning for humans. Suicidal can be called any external or internal activity, sent by a desire to take his/her own life. People who commit suicide usually suffer from a severe mental pain or are under stress and a sense of inability to cope with their problems. They often suffer from mental illness, especially major depression, and look ahead without any hope.

Suicidal behavior is the suicidal activity’s manifestation that includes the suicide attacks, attempts and manifestations.

Thus, a situation when death is caused by people who may not be aware of their actions or control them, and as a result of a person’s negligence are not related to suicide, but to the accidents.

There are three main types of suicidal behavior: true suicide, demonstrative suicide and hidden suicide.

The true suicide is never spontaneous, though sometimes it looks quite unexpected. Such a suicide is always preceded by depressed mood, depression, or just thinking about leaving this life. Sometimes, even the closest people do not notice this person’s condition (especially if you frankly do not want it). It is obvious that in many cases true suicide is a result of prolonged depression. And any depression is characterized by a focus on past, not the future. The man on the verge of true suicide somehow appeals to the past, clinging to it, but cannot find the picture of own future. Therefore, the “risk group” for suicides includes teenagers and old people.

The main part of the suicides is nothing but an attempt to engage in dialogue: only, of course, that’s so unique and totally unsuitable for this method. Most suicides usually do not want to die, but they kill themselves only in order to reach out to someone, pay attention to their problems, to call for help. The psychiatrists often call this phenomenon “demonstrative suicide.” Researchers stated that propensity to demonstrative suicide sometimes seen as a specific way of manipulation.

The hidden suicide is the destiny of those who understand that suicide is not the most dignified way to solve the problem, but nevertheless other way again cannot be found. These people do not choose an open withdrawal from life on their own, but they choose so-called “due to suicidal behavior.” For example, this is risky driving behaviors, exercises in extreme sports or dangerous business, and volunteer trips to hot spots, and even drug addiction.

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Among the major problems of modern Suicidology, the most relevant problems are the features of suicidal behavior associated with alcohol and drugs, the role of family and loneliness factors in the genesis of suicidal behavior and the problem of mental disease and suicide. In any suicide situation, there are usually two operating entities: the person who is thinking about suicide and his/her surroundings, or a specific person with whom he or she somehow tries to establish a dialogue. The increased suicide risk factors can be divided into extra-and intrapersonal. Extra personal suicide risk factors include: psychosis and borderline mental disorders; suicidal statements, repeated suicidal acts; post suicide; adolescence; extreme, especially so-called marginal living conditions; loss of prestige; conflict traumatic situation; drunkenness, drug use. Intrapersonal suicide risk factors can be identified: idiosyncrasies; reduced tolerance to emotional stress and frustrating factors; inadequacy of communication systems; inadequate (overstated, understated or unstable) self-esteem; lack or loss of targets or values underlying the basis of life, etc.

There are the features of suicide, which include: the desire to be alone is natural and normal for every person. But beware, when closed, the isolation become deep and long, when a person withdraws into himself, eschews the former friends and allies. Each of us is naughty from time to time. This condition can be caused by weather, well-being, fatigue, office or family problems, etc. But when a person’s mood almost every day varies between the excitation and decay, there is cause for alarm. There are strong evidences that these emotional fluctuations are the harbingers of death. Depression is a deep emotional decline, which is showed in everyone differently. Some people become isolated, but at the same time, they disguise their feelings so well that it is impossible to notice the changes in their behavior. The only way in such cases is a direct and open conversation with a man. This is a proven fact that a lot of acts of suicide are caused by anger, rage, and cruelty to others. An absence or, conversely, abnormally increased appetite are closely linked to self-destruction thoughts and should always be considered to be a criterion for the potential hazards. In addition to the above-mentioned information, it is necessary to add that “… alcohol and drug use disorders have been found to be strongly related to suicide risk” (Ilgen, et. al, 2011).

People, who plan their suicide, hand out their own things to family, friends, or relatives. As experience shows, this sinister campaign is a direct forerunner of a coming disaster. In each case, it is recommended to have a serious and frank conversation with that person in order to clarify the intentions of potential suicides.

The reasons for suicide are complex and numerous. The reasons can be sought in biological, genetic, psychological and social spheres of a person. Despite the fact that people usually commit suicide in extreme situations, such as divorce, loss of work or study, most experts suggest that it is rather a reason to commit suicide than its cause.

Most people who kill themselves suffer from depression, which often goes undiagnosed and untreated. Since depression often underlies suicide, the study of the causes of depression can help scientists to understand the causes of suicide. “About 90% of suicides occur in persons with a clinically diagnosable psychiatric disorder” (Tondo, et. al., 2011).

Despite the fact that some studies suggest that suicides of famous people can play an exemplary role model, especially among teenagers, this point of view is not fully proven. However, there is some evidence that the famous people’s suicides can be a powerful incentive to others’ suicides, especially among those in the range of 13 to 19 years. In addition, the causes of teen suicides are poverty, family relationships and with their peers, alcohol and drugs, unrequited love, experienced in childhood abuse, social isolation, mental disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, and so on. The number of suicides among young people has increased over the last decade. It is not superfluous to mention that early marriages do not save young people (aged 15-19) from the risk of suicide. This is primarily due to the fact that “young” marriages are more likely an attempt, not always successful, to solve some other, unrelated to marriage problems, for example, get rid of the unbearable situation in family.

Taking everything into account, it is possible to conclude that suicide is the result of the personality’s social – psychological disadaptation in modern society. Psychological crises arise as a result of the intimate, family and personal, social and creative conflicts. In order to avoid the manifestation of suicidal behavior, it is necessary to provide people, especially teenagers with social support by including family, school, friends, etc. It is useful to carry out socio-psychological training issues, provide individual and group lessons to raise self-esteem, development of an adequate relationship to self, empathy, to increase self-control, replacement of “significant others”, to develop the motivation in order to achieve success. It can be based on the behavioral skills’ trainings.


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