Wednesday, September 5, 2007

here's something to chew on...

Emile Durkheim decides to figure out if you can apply sociological factors to suicide. This was a revolutionary approach in his day. Of course today we understand that suicide is affect by many various factors in society but essential suicide is still considered an essentially private act of an individual often acting in isolation. Durkheim confronted the notion that suicide was essentially a psychological disfuntion in the individual. He figured that if that notion was correct he should find that people with psychological problems should be the group of people where suicide occured most often. The data simply could not support that assumption instead the data revealed that the groups of people where suicide was most prevalent were: unmarried people, Protestants (as opposed to Catholics), and men.
Based on his findings he concluded that the social factor that most affected suicide was social solidarity - the connectedness of the people with a social group.
Not sure if you noticed it but Protestants were in that top three. Durkheim said the difference between Catholics and Protestants was how the nature of their faith expression played out in communal connectivity. Catholics he suggested were more communal and their ritualistic approaches to religion kept a social contract in place. Protestants whose faith focus was on the individuals connection to God (you know personal saviour and all that), didn't seem to achieve the same social contract within thier religious expression.
I think makes for some very interesting questions for practical theology in the area of soteriology and an understanding of the nature of the church.

2 comments:

Bonnie said...

I can't believe you posted on this!!! I had a friend who attempted suicide last week. Unfortunately, that's obviously a contradiction in itself. If I was being a friend she would have been feeling, the things you were mentioning right? Solidarity,connectedness, etc. With myself, my family and even my church family... It has been an extreme wake up call regarding priorities! This was interesting, I don't believe our (protestant)view of "doing church" has typically included enough of these aspects, especially when compared to say... mormonism.... anyhow, those are my thoughts on this... Take Care - BC

Outgoing... said...

hey Bonnie thanks for that
I think it is easy to deal with alot of guilt over suicide and I know when that young high schooler killed himself i had a strong sense of responsibility for his death even though I did not know him at all really. Our individual lives affect the whole - i think that is the point. the question is do we live in such a way as to make some of these social problems viable or not to people who are most vulnerable.
As an aside this Durkheim dude found that more women actually attempt suicide than men do but men are more successful at ending thier lives - which is obviously no success at all...