Durkheim points out that our individual position is integrated in ourcommunal life. He identified that no special package of our environmentalsituation can determine suicide and anyone placed at the end of two extremescan be encouraged/persuaded to commit suicide. These two extremes are completesocial integrity or superficial social integrity. Individuals in a society aredependent on each other and the degree of this social dependency is normalunder normal circumstances.
However, a change in the degree of this socialdependency can lead to suicide. Hence, we can assume suicide is the productionof social processes. Durkheim believes that egotistic suicide has a negativecorrelation with social integrity meaning that more excluded individuals have ahigher tendency for suicide 11. According to this theory, individual tendencyfor suicide is influenced by their relationship with others and everyindividual suicide is directly influenced by social context and socialbackground. Differences in social integrity among individuals can be a cause ofsuicide. Suicide can only be explained based on different lifestyles ofdifferent social groups and Durkheim’s theory is based on consequences ofintegrity. High integrity strengthens social links and values up to the pointof determining life goals for individuals 12. Two characteristics of a society influence the suicide rate 13.
The firstis social integrity in which a high amount of it will lead to Altruisticsuicide (like a soldier who sacrifices his life for others in a battlefield).On the other hand, low amounts of social integrity will lead to egotisticsuicide (a person who is excluded from values, expectations, and constraintsand sees himself/herself separate from others). The second factor is socialorder. High amounts of order and social monitoring will lead to fatalisticsuicide (a person who wants to free himself/herself from social constraints)and low social order can cause anomic suicide (a person who thinks that his/herwants and desires have not been met by the society) 14. Types of suicide Durkheim’s model has four dimensions: egotism, anomie, altruism, andfatalism.
Egotism and altruism are representative of absence and abundance ofintegrity while anomie and fatalism are representative of absence or abundanceof order 15. It is evident that integrity and order are correlated, butsociologists are not in agreement on what makes these concepts distinct fromone another. From Parson’s point of view, integrity is related to values andorder is related to social control. Nisbet states that integrity and order aremoral and social commonality respectively. Coser differentiates betweenstructural integrity and norm-regulation.
From Giddens point of view, Durkheimhas related egotism with individualism and anomie with the absence of moralregulations. Lakaz believes that integrity relates an individual to socialvalues and ideals and order regulates an individual’s aspirations and hope 16.Overall, each of these scholars have tried to interpret and in some casesrevise Durkheim’s viewpoints and it seems that their interpretations reached acommon point.
They believe that Durkheim views social integrity and order as variablesexplaining suicide.