Some thoughts on Durkheim’s theory

One theory Emile Durkheim, a functionalist thinker mentions is his theory behind suicide and social isolation. He collected information from people of his time and theorized the reason why so many people committed or attempted to commit suicide. His studies show that suicide was highest among single, wealthy, protestant, men. Now although these are his findings at the time there are obviously changes and instances that do not fit into this description. What the idea was that he came up with was that people of social isolation were at the highest risk of suicide. As we discussed in class being single can be lonely for many and can be hard for some as well. Being wealthy although many may say it does not or should not affect your social contact, can and in many cases does. People tend to attribute money with happiness but money cannot replace social contact and face to face interactions which many wealthy people miss out on for many reason. Some reasons may be because they work to hard or to much to have the money they do resulting in lower social contact, or they could be overly cautious about making friends because of their money, but whatever it is studies show that wealthy people tend to be more lonely then non-wealthy people. In our reasoning for protestants being a part of this list is because although it is not well understood, it is said that Protestantism was a less family and social involved religion. It is said that Protestants were more individualistic than Catholicism or other religions. Lastly men were named to have higher rates of suicide than women, and this we theorized to be because men do not often tend to have close friends, family, or connections and relationships as women do leaving them to deal with many problems on their own and not allowing them to release pent up emotions like women do. I also think it may be because as we set standards for gender we engrave the idea into everyone’s heads that men must be strong and should not cry or talk about their feelings which isn’t right but could be part of the issue. As I said before things have changed and their are different circumstances for every case but I believe that the general idea of Durkheim’s ideas, being that suicide is highest among those who are socially isolated, to be true to this day. I have known people who have attempted suicide and although they say it is for other reason that I will not state, what I hear from them falls under Durkheim’s theory of social isolation or at least they feel as though they are socially isolated.

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