UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Socioemotional Foundations of Suicide : A Microsociological View of Durkheim's Suicide Abrutyn, Seth; Mueller, Anna S.


Durkheim’s theory of suicide remains one of the quintessential “classic” theories in sociology. Since the 1960s and 1970s, however, it has been challenged by numerous theoretical concerns and empirical dilemmas, particularly the large number of cases that do not appear to fit Durkheim’s general model. The paper below elaborates Durkheim’s macro-level typology of suicide by sketching out the socioemotional structure of suicide that undergirds why social integration and moral regulation matter to suicidality. Beginning with Durkheim’s own insights on the Individual Forms of suicide, we integrate social psychological, psychological, and psychiatric advances in emotions and argue that (1) egoistic, or attachment-based suicides, are driven primarily by sadness/hopelessness, (2) anomic/fatalistic, or regulative suicides, are driven by shame, and (3) mixed-types exist and are useful for developing a more robust and complex multi-level model of suicide that highlights the experience of multiple aspects of social reality.

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