Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Sociology and Philosophy

What did Emil Durkheim contribute to the study of suicide?

First of all, Durkheim defined suicide as follows: “[T]he term suicide is applied to all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result.” Second, he systematically catalogued suicide rates in modern society and analyzed his data into four main types: egoistic, altruistic, anomic, and fatalistic. Egoistic suicide resulted from insufficient social ties, altruistic from too much involvement in social relationships. Anomic suicide was the result of acute or chronic crises typical of conditions in contemporary life, especially economic deprivation. Fatalistic suicide occurred only in exceptional conditions of difficult life circumstances, such as slavery.


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