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Suicide Abstract: Suicide is one of the most important social problems. Suicide has no demographic anchors: it occurs in all nationalities, races, age groups, cultures and professions. The paper provides with the statistical profile of suicide, examines social attitudes toward suicide, social and psychoanalytical approaches and dwells on general facts and myths. Outline: The Statistical Profile of Suicide Social Attitudes towards Suicide Durkheim and Suicide Psychoanalytical Approach Suicide: Facts and Myths Suicide The Statistical Profile of Suicide Suicide becomes the center-stage on the public agenda.
Suicide has no demographic boundaries. Suicides occur in all races, nationalities, age groups, cultures and professions. Despite of the suicide prevention centers in more than two hundred cities in America, suicide rate is still high. Suicide rate in the U. S. rose by 300 % in 1955 1970 (Donnelly, 1998).
Since that times it has stabilized, but is still high. According to the information from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (1994), there were 12. 4 suicides per 100, 000 of the U. S. population. 5, 350 suicides were aged between 15 and 24.
According to the information retrieved from The American Association of Suicidology, The U. S. Suicide Official Final Data 2003 (McIntosh, 2006) is as follows: Number Per Day Rate % of Deaths Nation 32, 439 88. 6 11. 1 1. 4 Males 25, 566 69. 9 17. 7 2. 2 Females 6, 873 18. 8 4. 6 0. 6 Whites 29, 251 79. 9 12. 3 1. 4 Non-whites 3, 188 8. 7 5. 8 0. 9 Non-whites (Blacks) 2, 019 5. 5 5. 2 0. 7 Elderly (65 + years) 5, 198 14. 2 14. 3 0. 3 Young (15 - 24 years) 4, 316 11. 8 10. 4 12. 9 One person every 16. 2 minutes commits a suicide; One person 65 + yrs. every 1 hr 41. 4 minutes commits a suicide; One young person (15 - 24 yrs) every 2 hrs 2. 1 minutes commits a suicide. The American Association of Suicidology points to the fact that the attempts of committing a suicide are also worrying. There are 811, 000 annual attempts in the U.
S. It means that one person every 39 seconds makes an attempt. The figures are translated to 25 attempts for every death by a suicide for the U. S. nation (100 - 200: 1 for the young and 4: 1 for the elderly people). Females undertake attempts more often (3 female attempts for each male attempt) compared to 3. 7 male deaths by suicide for each female death by suicide (McIntosh, 2006).
The problem of adolescent suicide is also of high importance. The suicide is 11 th ranking cause of death in the United States for adults, compared to the 3 rd cause of death for the young. According to the survey conducted by the San Diego City Schools in 1993, 21. 1 % of male students and 30. 0 % of female students had seriously considered committing a suicide in the past year. 7 percent of males and 12. 8 % of females allegedly attempted it (9). The study conducted by the National Center for Disease Control confirmed the fact: approximately 27 % of students seriously thought about a suicide and 8 % undertook attempts to commit it. The American Association of Suicidology elicits a fact that the whites commit suicide more often compared to the African-Americans (approx. 28, 000 vs. approx. 2, 000).
According to 2003 survey, Wyoming reports the highest suicide rate. It is also interesting that people from western and southern states commit suicide more often compared to those from eastern and northern areas. According to the information from American Psychiatric Association, every fourth teenager thought about a suicide at least once. The experts from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention assert that depression is one of the most popular reasons to commit a suicide.
According to their calculations, approximately 30 % of people suffering from depression try to commit a suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 19 million Americans report depression. This figure exceeds the official data for patients suffering from ischemia (7 million patients), cancer (6 million patients), and AIDS (200, 000 patients). Suicides are usually committed because of despair, aberration, to make a protest against something / somebody , to maintain ones dignity, or because of revenge. Risk factors are: poverty, unemployment, material losses, death of relatives and / or friends, etc.
Social Attitudes towards Suicide Social attitude towards suicide is generally negative either we speak from the religious point of view, from the position of moral philosophy, or from the vantage point of ethics. Although there is an opinion that no action can be intrinsically wrong or right, all these ethical terms contradict with basic moral values. Historically, the social attitude towards suicide changed. Actually, the attitude is also influenced by religious and social belonging of an individual. For example, according to the positions of humanistic ethics, when the act of suicide helps people it is righteous, because it is the human need what justifies the act of suicide (Donnelly, 1998). William Shakespeare considered that it is a sin to rush into the secret house of death.
However, suicide is a matter of ethical values and how the society reasons about them. America, Europe, Africa and Asia have many contradictions concerning the aspects of suicide (Shneidman, 1998). For example, according to Koran, an individual cannot commit the suicide as far as it interferes with the Allahs right to control human death and birth. In Islam, suicide is considered even more dreadful than murder. In contrast to Islamic religious practices, there were nations where the practice of suicide was respected. For example, Hindus had a special ritual of suttee, Japanese had the rite of seppuku, and Buddhist monks were known for the ceremony of self-immolation (59).
Primitive tribes usually condemned a suicide as they believed that a soul will not be able to achieve rest and will wander around haunting the living (59). For the same reasons, medieval Christians buried a person who committed a suicide with a stake through the heart and dug the grave at a crossroads instead of in "hallowed" (blessed) ground to keep it from poisoning the soil (60). What is interesting, some of the ancient tribes followed the same tradition. For example, the Buganda people used almost the same way to protect their tribes from suicides; the Indians from Alabama threw the suicides to the river. In such a way, many cultural groups make suicide taboo. What concerns the Bible and Christian society, although suicide was never condemned by the Bible, in later times the Talmud did and the Christian church followed suit (60).
The Greeks were more favorable to suicide, and both the Epicureans and the Stoics approved it in principle (60). The Pythagorean's were against suicide, obeying the same rule of Islamic kismet (interfering the Gods will). Plato approved euthanasia in the manner of suicide. The Romans also allowed suicide.
They called it the libertas mori. Christian Europe started moving from pagan prejudices and condemned suicide once and for all. They preferred St. Augustine's explanation of the absolute prohibition.
According to him, the suicide should be prohibited because of the Sixth Amendments prohibition of murder, because suicide is the worst sin, because if we are guilty, we cannot take justice into our hands, and if we are innocent, we cannot kill innocent, and, finally, the famous thesis that our duty is to bear suffering with fortitude; to escape is to evade our role as soldiers of Christ (61). Actually, these theses became the basic arguments for suicide condemnation by the Church. Nowadays, the general social attitude towards suicide is negative. The communities try helping people to overcome critical situations and to avoid the extreme measures.
Durkheim and Suicide Durkheim examined the problem of suicide from the view of his own theoretical methodological concept. According to him, psychological motifs of suicide that are often interpreted as motivating forces are indeed individual, and should be examined as a distorted reflection of general social conditions. Durkheim examined social environment as the main condition able to influence the rate of suicides. He denied no role of individual factors, psychical condition of suicides; however, he laid stress on their secondary meaning and their dependence on general social conditions and social environment. According to Durkheim's theory, the percentage of suicides (proportion of quantity of the suicides to quantity of population) is a function of several social variables: relations in political, religious, family national and other social groups. All these variables are united by the degree of social integration or social boundaries of a certain individual.
For example, in his studies of how religion can influence the suicide, Durkheim showed differences between Catholicism and Protestantism both from the dogmatic and ceremonial points of view. According to him, Catholicism is more ancient traditional system of dogmas and religious ceremonies that Protestantism. Compared to Protestantism, Catholicism is more integral, its dogmas are more indisputable, it has stronger convictions and beliefs, and stronger irreconcilability to novelties that often destroy religious spirit of congregation. Protestantism is more related to decline in traditional system of beliefs and is penetrated by the spirit of free-thinking.
In such a way, Protestantism hardly can unite the congregation to a greater extent compared to that of Catholicism. No wonder that percentage of suicides for Protestants is much higher. According to Durkheim, there are four types of suicides: Egoistic suicide. Durkheim claims that this kind of suicide results from man's no longer finding a basis for existence in life (Siemens, 1993). Egoistic suicide can be caused by alienation from society, breach of social bonds, lack of social support, and, as a consequence, feeling of isolation, loneliness, boredom, depression, emptiness, and acknowledgement of the tragedy of the situation.
Altruistic suicide. Altruistic suicide occurs when personal interests are completely absorbed by the social, when integration of the social group is so significant that an individual stops functioning as an individual unit. In order to provide a proper explanation, Durkheim dwells on ancient traditions: i. e. suicide of the aged and...
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Research essay sample on Commit Suicide Suicide Prevention