Emile Durkheim: Theory Of Suicide

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Émile Durkheim French social researcher who built up an overwhelming procedure joining empirical research with the sociological hypothesis. He is broadly viewed as the originator of the French school of Sociology.

Childhood and Education

Durkheim was naturally introduced to a Jewish group of unassuming methods, and it was underestimated that he would turn into a rabbi, similar to his dad. The passing of his dad before Durkheim was 20, be that as it may, troubled him with substantial obligations. As ahead of schedule as his late youngsters Durkheim ended up persuaded that exertion and even distress are progressively helpful for the profound advancement of the person than joy or delight. He turned into a gravely taught young fellow.

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“As an astounding understudy at the Lycée Louis le Grand, Durkheim was a solid contender to enter the famous and exceedingly focused École Normale Supérieure in Paris. While taking his load up examination at the Institute Jauffret in the Latin Quarter, he met another talented young fellow from the territories, Jean Jaurès, later to lead the French Socialist Party and around then intrigued, similar to Durkheim, in logic and in the good and social change of his nation. Jaurès won access to the École Normale in 1878; after one year Durkheim did likewise.”

“Durkheim’s religious confidence had evaporated by at that point, and his idea had turned out to be through and through mainstream however with a solid twisted toward good change. Like various French thinkers amid the Third Republic, Durkheim looked to science and specifically to sociology and to significant instructive change as the way to maintain a strategic distance from the risks of social disconnectedness, or ‘anomie,’ as he was to call that condition in which standards for direct were either missing, frail, or clashing.”

He delighted in the scholarly climate of the École Normale—the talk of otherworldly and political issues sought after with enthusiasm and vivified by the idealistic dreams of young fellows bound to be among the pioneers of their nation. Durkheim was regarded by his companions and educators, yet he was eager with the over the top weight on exquisite talk and surface clean then pervasive in French advanced education. His instructors of reasoning struck him as excessively partial to consensuses and excessively adoring of the past.

“Worrying at the ordinariness of formal examinations, Durkheim passed the last focused examination in 1882 yet without the splendor that his companions had anticipated for him. He at that point acknowledged a progression of commonplace assignments as an educator of rationality at the state auxiliary schools of Sens, Saint-Quentin, and Troyes somewhere in the range of 1882 and 1887. In 1885– 86 he took a year’s time away to seek after research in Germany, where he was awed by Wilhelm Wundt, a spearheading exploratory analyst. In 1887 he was selected instructor at the University of Bordeaux, where he in this way turned into an educator and showed social rationality until 1902. He at that point moved to the University of Paris, where he kept in touch with a portion of his most essential works and impacted an age of researchers.”

Analytical Methods

“Durkheim knew about a few unknown dialects and explored scholastic papers in German, English, and Italian finally for L’Année sociologique, the diary he established in 1896. It has been noted, notwithstanding, now and again with objection and astonishment by non-French social researchers, that Durkheim voyaged pretty much nothing and that, in the same way as other French researchers and the striking British anthropologist Sir James Frazer, he never embraced any hands on work. The immense data Durkheim contemplated on the clans of Australia and New Guinea and on the Eskimos was altogether gathered by different anthropologists, explorers, or ministers.”

“This was not because of provincialism or absence of regard for the solid. Durkheim did not look like the French logician Auguste Comte in making bold and dogmatic generalizations while ignoring exact perception. He did, in any case, keep up that solid perception in remote pieces of the world does not generally prompt illuminating views on the past or even on the present. For him, certainties had no intelligent importance except if they were gathered into sorts and laws. He guaranteed more than once that it is from a development raised on the internal idea of the genuine that learning of solid the truth is gotten, an information not seen by perception of the realities all things considered. He along these lines built ideas, for example, the consecrated and totalism precisely similarly that Karl Marx built up the idea of class. In truth, Durkheim’s fundamental intrigue did not lie in the examination for the good of its own of alleged crude clans yet rather in the light such an investigation may toss on the present.”

The outward occasions of his life as a scholarly and as a researcher may seem undramatic. All things considered, quite a bit of what he thought and composed originated from the occasions that he saw in his developmental years, during the 1880s, and in the sincere concern he took in them.

The Second Empire, which fallen in the 1870 thrashing of the French because of Germany, had meant a time of levity and scattering to the youthful researcher. France, with the help of a significant number of its liberal and scholarly components, had dove fast into a war for which it was ill-equipped; its pioneers demonstrated unable. The left-wing Commune of Paris, which assumed control over the French capital in 1871, prompted silly obliteration, which appeared to Durkheim’s age, by and large, as proof of the estrangement of the common laborers from entrepreneur society.

The wicked suppression that pursued the Commune was taken as additional proof of the savagery of private enterprise and of the self-centeredness of the panicked bourgeoisie. Afterward, the emergency of 1886 over Georges Boulanger, the priest of war who requested a centralist government to execute an approach of vengeance against Germany, was one of a few occasions that vouched for the resurgence of patriotism, destined to be joined by hostile to Semitism. Such real French masterminds of the more seasoned age as Ernest Renan and Hippolyte Taine interrupted their verifiable and philosophical works after 1871 to break down those shades of malice and to offer cures.

“Durkheim was one of a few youthful logicians and researchers, straight from their École Normale preparing, who ended up persuaded that advancement was not the essential outcome of science and innovation, that it couldn’t be spoken to by a rising bend, and that smug good faith couldn’t be legitimized. He saw around him the predominance of anomie, an individual feeling of rootlessness encouraged by the nonappearance of social standards. Material flourishing set free covetousness and interests that compromised the harmony of society.”

These wellsprings of Durkheim’s sociological reflections, never remote from good rationality, were first communicated in his essential doctoral theory, De la division du travail social(1893; The Division of Labour in Society), and in Le Suicide (1897; Suicide). In Durkheim’s view, moral and social structures were being jeopardized by the appearance of innovation and motorization. He trusted that social orders with undifferentiated work (i.e., crude social orders) displayed mechanical solidarity, while social orders with a high division of work, or expanded specialization (i.e., current social orders), showed natural solidarity. The division of work rendered laborers progressively strange to each other but then increasingly subordinate upon each other; specialization implied that no individual worker would construct an item on his or her own.

Durkheim’s 1897 investigation of suicide depended on his perception that suicide gave off an impression of being less regular where the individual was firmly incorporated into a general public; as it were, those coming up short on a solid social recognizable proof would be progressively defenseless to suicide. Accordingly, the obviously absolutely singular choice to repudiate life could be clarified through social powers.

Theory of Suicide

Theory of Suicide – Durkheim’s third acclaimed book ‘Suicide’ published in 1897 is in different regards identified with his study of division of work. ‘Suicide’, the demonstration of ending one’s very own life, figures unmistakably in the authentic advancement of humanism since it was the subject of the primary sociological information to test a hypothesis.

Durkheim’s hypothesis of suicide is referred to as ‘an amazing milestone in which reasonable hypothesis and experimental research are united.

Durkheim’s book ‘Suicide’ is an examination of a marvel viewed as neurotic, expected to illuminate the underhanded which undermines current modern social orders, that is, ‘anomie.’ Suicide means that confusion of both individual and society. Expanding number of suicides obviously shows something incorrectly some place in the social arrangement of the concerned society. Durkheim has considered this issue at some length.

Durkheim’s investigation of suicide starts with a meaning of the wonder. He at that point continues to discredit the prior translations of suicide. At long last, he builds up a general hypothesis of the marvel.

Meaning of Suicide

According to Durkheim, suicide alludes to ‘each instance of death coming about legitimately or by implication from a positive or negative demise performed by the victim individual himself and which endeavours to deliver this outcome. 

It is obvious from the meaning of Durkheim that suicide is a cognizant demonstration and the individual concerned is completely mindful of its outcomes. The individual who shoots himself to death, or beverages serious toxic substance, or bounces down from the tenth story of a structure, for instance, is completely mindful of the outcomes of such a demonstration

Two Main Purposes behind this Study

Durkheim utilized various factual records to set up his principal thought that suicide is additionally a social actuality and social request and confusion are at the very foundation of suicide. As Abraham and Morgan have brought up, Durkheim utilized factual examination for two essential reasons. They are expressed underneath:

  • To invalidate theory of suicide dependent on brain research, science, hereditary qualities, atmosphere, and geographic variables,
  • To help with experimental proof his very own sociological clarification of suicide.

Durkheim Displays an Extreme Form of Sociological Realism

“Durkheim is of the firm conviction that suicide isn’t an individual demonstration or a private and individual activity. It is brought about by some power which is well beyond the individual or ‘super-singular.’ It is certainly not an individual circumstance yet a sign of a social condition. He talks about self-destructive flows as aggregate propensities that rule some vulnerable people. The demonstration of suicide is only the sign of these flows. Durkheim has chosen the occurrence or occasion of suicide to show the capacity of sociological hypothesis.”

Durkheim denied a large portion of the acknowledged speculations of suicide.

  1. His monographic think about exhibited that heredity, for instance, is certainly not an adequate clarification of suicide.
  2. Climatic and geographic elements are similarly inadequate as informative variables.
  3. Likewise, influxes of impersonation are insufficient clarifications.
  4. He additionally settled the way that suicide isn’t really brought about by the mental components.

Social Forces are the Real Causes of Suicide: 

Suicide is an exceptionally singular act, yet the thought processes in a suicide can be completely seen just by reference to the social setting in which it happens. In his endeavors to substantiate this reality he came to realize that the frequency of suicide differed from one social gathering or set up to another and did as such in a reliable way throughout the years.

Protestants were bound to end it all than Catholics; individuals in substantial urban communities were bound to end it all than individuals in little communities; individuals living alone were bound to end it all than individuals living in families.

Durkheim secluded one free factor that lay behind these distinctions: the degree to which the individual was incorporated into a social security with others. Individuals with delicate or more fragile connections to their locale are bound to end their own lives than individuals who have more grounded ties.

Durkheim’s Threefold Classification of Suicide

Having expelled clarifications of additional social variables, Durkheim continues to dissect the sorts of suicide. He considers three sorts of suicide:

  • Egoistic Suicide which results from the absence of the combination of the person into his social gathering.
  • Altruistic Suicide is a sort of suicide which results from the over-reconciliation of the person into his social gathering.
  • Anomie Suicide results from the condition of normlessness or degeneration found in society.

Having investigated the previously mentioned three kinds of suicide, Durkheim infers that ‘suicide is an individual wonder whose causes are basically social.’

Suicide – An Index to Decay in Social Solidarity

Durkheim has set up the view that there are no social orders in which suicide does not happen. It implies suicide might be considered a ‘typical’, that is, a standard, event. Be that as it may, unexpected increment in suicide rates might be seen.

This, he stated, could be taken as ‘a file of breaking down powers at work in a social structure.’ He likewise arrived at the resolution that diverse rates of suicide are the results of contrasts in degree and sort of social solidarity. Suicide is a sort of record to rot in social solidarity.

Brief Evaluation of Durkheim’s Theory of Suicide Comments in Appreciation of the Theory:

  1. As L.A. Coser expressed, Durkheim’s investigation of ‘suicide’ could be referred to as a grand land work ponder in which applied hypothesis and experimental research are united in an impressive way.’
  2. As Abraham and Morgan have said ‘the bigger noteworthiness of suicide lies in its exhibition of the capacity of sociological hypothesis in observational science’.
  3. A fruitful endeavor is made in this hypothesis to set up legitimately the connection between social solidarity, social.
  4. Durkheim has illuminated the different essences of suicide. He is, without a doubt, the main individual in such manner.

Four Types of Suicide

Based on the analysis of a mass of information assembled by him on numerous social orders and societies, Durkheim recognized three fundamental sorts of suicides. They are as following:

  1. Egoistic Suicide
  2. Altruistic Suicide
  3. Anomic Suicide
  4. Fatalistic Suicide

As per Durkheim, all these happen as an outflow of gathering breakdown or something to that affect or the other. These three kinds of suicide uncover diverse sorts of relations between the actor and his society.

1. Egoistic Suicide

Egoistic suicide is a result of moderately powerless gathering mix. It happens because of extraordinary dejection and furthermore out of abundance independence. At the point when men become ‘confined from society’, and when the bonds that recently had attached them to their kindred creatures become free – they are progressively inclined to egoistic suicide.

As indicated by Durkheim, egoistic suicides are submitted by those people who tend to quiets themselves down inside themselves. Such people feel insulted, hurt and disregarded. Introvertive attributes increase high ground in them.

Egoistic people are standoffish and cut off from the standard of society and don’t check out social issues. Such people get estranged and think that it’s hard to adapt to social distance and feel actuated to end it all.

Durkheim’s conviction is that absence of reconciliation of the people into the social gathering is the fundamental driver for egoistic suicide. Durkheim examined changing degrees of coordination of people into their religion, family, political and national networks.

He found that among the Catholics suicides were nearly not exactly among the Protestants. He likewise discovered that Catholicism can incorporate its individuals all the more completely into its overlay.

Then again, Protestantism cultivates soul of free request, licenses incredible individual opportunity, needs hierarchic associations and has less normal convictions and practices. It is realized that the Catholic Church is more capably incorporated than the Protestant church.

It is along these lines the Protestants are more inclined to end it all than the Catholics. Consequently, Durkheim summed up that the absence of reconciliation is the primary driver of egoistic suicide.

2. Altruistic Suicide:

This sort of suicide happens as a penance in which an individual takes his life by gallant methods to advance a reason or a perfect which is extremely dear to him. It results from the over-incorporation of the person into his gathering. In straightforward words, altruistic suicide is removing one’s own life for a reason. It implies that even abnormal state of social solidarity incites suicide.


  1. In some crude social orders and in present day armed forces such suicide happens.
  2. Japanese at times represent this sort of suicide. They call it ‘Harakiri.’ In this routine with regards to Harakiri, some Japanese go to the degree of removing their lives for the bigger social solidarity. They think about that implosion would counteract the breakdown of social solidarity.
  3. The act of ‘sati’ which was once practically speaking in North India is another case of this sort.
  4. The self-immolation by Buddhist priests, implosion in Nirvana under the Brahmanical impact as found on account of old Hindu sages speak to different variations of altruistic suicide. Wherever altruistic suicide is pervasive, man is constantly prepared to forfeit his life for an incredible reason, guideline, perfect or esteem.

3. Anomie Suicide:

The breakdown of social standards and abrupt social changes that are normal for current occasions, energize anomie suicide. At the point when the aggregate still, small voice debilitates, men succumb to anomie suicide. ‘Without the social sponsorship to which one is acclimated, life is made a decision to be not worth proceeding.

Anomie suicide is the sort that pursues disastrous social changes. Public activity all around appears to turn out badly. As per Durkheim, on occasion when social relations get exasperates both individual and social morals become the causalities. Estimations of life descend and standpoint of certain people changes fundamentally. There are then sure risky advancements in the general public.

An unexpected change has its vibrations both in public activity and social relationship, which clears path for suicide. In the event that the change is unexpected, alteration winds up troublesome and the individuals who don’t get acclimated to changes end it all.

It is this social disturbance which prompts suicide. As per Durkheim, monetary fiasco and mechanical emergency as well as even abrupt financial thriving can cause interruption and deregulation lastly suicide.

4. Fatalistic Suicide

“Fatalistic Suicide is a kind of suicide distinguished by David Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), happening in social conditions where the individual encounters unavoidable mistreatment. Durkheim has characterized fatalistic suicide as coming about ‘from over the top guideline.’ Suicide by people whose interests are stifled by severe order. The state of subjection may make an individual feel that the best way to discover escape is suicide. We would call it fatalistic suicide in light of the fact that the individual sees himself as sentenced by destiny or bound to be a slave. Here, is a fatalistic circumstance requiring a fatalistic suicide as an answer or departure.” 

The class of fatalistic suicide was built chiefly for motivations behind symmetry (as stood out from prideful suicide) and in light of the fact that it would undermine his focal cases about the job of present day urban life as expanding the occurrence of suicide, Durkheim would never truly analyze the likelihood that social coordination could result in suicide. Fatalistic suicide filled in as a descriptor for suicides in conventional social orders, since Durkheim was looked with the issue that even in social orders with inexhaustible social capital, people by and by slaughtered themselves. 

‘Fatalistic suicide emerges from ‘excessive regulations’ that cruelly hinders the potential outcomes of future. People don’t need their lives because of the incredibly stifling condition. The suicides of those experiencing mental and physical abuse are nearer to fatalistic suicide’. – ‘Labour Politics of Suicide in Korea’, Lim, Hyun-Chin. what’s more, Hwang, Suk-Man.


Despite its claim of empiricism, Durkheim’s theory of suicide had criticism to his side

  1. J.M. Atkinson in his discovering suicide , 1978 contends that quality of statistics used by Durkheim is questionable . For e.g. there is an evidence to suggest that religious censure of suicide is more in Catholics than among protestants . As a result , Catholics may go a great length in disguising suicides. Similarly , higher rates in suicide in some countries over others may be due to different methods of investigations used in different countries.
  2. Many of them were of the view that his data has poor reliability as it taken from police stations which do not include unreported suicides.
  3. He also did not include attempted suicides.
  4. David Freedman in his “the Ecological Fallancy”,2002 accused his of committing ecological Fallacy as he tries to generalise an apparent personal phenomenon.
  5. Many of the statistics Durkheim used were incomplete and are unreliable as autopsies were rare in the 19th century.
  6. Many countries in the 19th century lacked the sophisticated modern administrative system to collect and compile results on a national scale.
  7. Before a death could be called a suicide, the coroner should investigative and give his interpretation to the death.


In simple words, he is perceived as one of the best social thinker and scholastic sociologists of France who has created sociological ideas, methodology, theories, etc.

It is obvious from the meaning of Durkheim that suicide is a cognizant demonstration and the individual concerned is completely mindful of its results. Durkheim is of the firm conviction that suicide isn’t an individual demonstration or a private and individual activity. It is brought about by some power.

Durkheim set forward three ideas making up a social hypothesis of suicide: self-absorbed, benevolent and anomie. The initial two suicides, self-absorbed and charitable, clarify suicide by taking a gander at the system of social connection to society which Durkheim called social mix. The third idea, anomic suicide, then again, has a place with structure which clarifies suicide by taking a gander at the adjustments in the administrative system of society. Self-absorbed suicide results from the absence of reconciliation of the person into his social gathering. The main sort of suicide happens due to over create of independence, while second is because of an absence of advancement at the dimension of person. Nuclear suicide, conversely, happens as a result of the decrease of the administrative component of society. Truth be told, fatalistic suicide has little significance in reality. Durkheim showed an extraordinary type of sociological authenticity.

An effective endeavour is made in this hypothesis to set up coherently the connection between social solidarity, social control and suicide. Durkheim has illuminated the different essences of suicide.


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