Study of Suicide

Suicide is a very touchy subject for many and I feel like it isn’t discussed often because of the taboo view of even talking about it. I am in no way trying to lessen the seriousness of the matter or say I think suicide is alright, but I want to address the lack of discussion about it. When I was in elementary school I remember hearing about a local high schooler in my town who committed suicide. I was young and didn’t really understand, but I knew it was a huge shock for my small town. It was a really sad time, but I remember when people talked about it they didn’t really say the word “suicide” almost as if it was a swear word. I think the lack of discussion in our society is why the topic continues to be hidden and people thinking about committing suicide don’t feel like they can discuss it with people. I found a really good website  and their mission is to help people who may be struggling and feel they have no one to turn to. They also post the statistics of suicide rates which relates to the study by Emile Durkheim that we discussed in class. In his study he looked at the rates of suicide, but it may not be completely accurate because when he wrote about it in 1951, I’m sure it was even less discussed than it is now because families would try to hide the cause of death if their family member actually did commit suicide. Durkheim’s study investigated social factors that may affect the overall suicide rate. He looked at variation of rates by marital status, religion, military status, and economic condition.

Another factor which Durkheim didn’t study but I thought would be interesting is age, which I found an article about by G. Sullivan and H. Glichrist. Their article discussed gender and  sexual identity that are developed at a young age with suicide rates. They discuss in Australia suicide is the most common cause of death for young people with higher rates for young men. (197) They found a correlation with social factors like struggles with sexuality to be related to higher probability of suicide. For the study they interviewed people of young age and also adults involved in the lives of young people. Their study found some interesting things like how sexual identity issues can have a huge impact on a young person’s self-identity construction. This was a very interesting study to read about and I think their approach was similar to that of Durkheim’s.

The next issue with suicide I wanted to discuss in this blog relates to the article by Jane Brody. This article was about assisted suicides, or specifically when the elderly feel like they have lived life to the fullest and they do not want to prolong their lives any longer. I had never really heard much about this issue in a while so I thought it was a very interesting topic because I know their was debate about the legality of assisted suicide. One of the people she interviewed said they felt like “their lives have lost all meaning” and they did not want to be a burden to their loved ones. (2) I don’t know how I feel about this issue because I believe that in cases of other suicide, there should be a way to help people so they feel like their lives have meaning and they should continue living. With the elderly, they have lived a long life and if they are barely being kept alive and have a deadly illness, the debate is if they should relieve their pain and stop their lives. This is not considered a typical suicide, because the elderly need help in stopping any treatment and letting themselves die. I found an article by Stephen Sullivan and in it he discusses assisted suicide and people who are chronically ill and/or with terminal illnesses and want to end their lives. He brings up the issue of “rational suicide” meaning the person must be in a “hopeless” condition like terminal illness, severe physical and/or psychological pain, physically or mentally debilitating and/or deteriorating conditions, or quality of life that
is no longer acceptable to the individual. (33) I had never heard of the debate of rational suicide where some argue there is no such thing as a “rational” decision for suicide.  This definitely relates to Brody’s article about suicide because Sullivan’s study is also focusing on the argument whether it should be up to the person wanting to commit suicide or if we have the right to make a law against it. I found a website that has all the rights of assisted suicide and also provides a way for people to discuss the issue. The websites has articles about the debates and also ways to find more information. It is a very informative site about the issue of assisted suicide and provides information from their research and guidance  on the issue.

These articles on suicide were very interesting and I couldn’t really make a decision how I felt about assisted suicide. I don’t think suicide is the answer, but in terms of the elderly who want to end their suffering, it is a debatable subject. In any case, I think the issue of suicide needs to be less taboo of a subject because I think it would help people who are struggling and don’t get help because of the fear of being judged. I found an interesting video about the debate of assisted suicide and if it is a crime.


Brody, Jane. A Heartfelt Appeal for a Graceful Exit. New York Times, 2008, February 5. p D6.

Durkheim, Emile. Translated by John A. Spaulding and George Simpson. Edited with an Introduction by George Simpson. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1951. 405 pp

Gilchrist, H., & Sullivan, G. (2006). The role of gender and sexual relations for young people in identity construction and youth suicide. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 8(3), 195-209. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

News, CBS. (2007, June 1) Eye to Eye: Assisted Suicide. [Video File] Retrieved From:

Selvin, H.C. 1965. “Durkheim’s Suicide:Further Thoughts on a Methodological Classic”, in R. A. Nisbet (ed.) Émile Durkheim pp. 113-136

Sullivan, S. (2011). The right to die: a discussion of ‘rational suicide’. Mental Health Practice, 14(6), 32-34. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.