Durkheim’s Typology of Suicides
Four Types of Suicide according to Emile Durkheim
Dr. Peter Krey, June 19th 2002
(Note that because this post did not pick up the lines, I have also scanned a copy with them.)
In his important book, his study of suicide, Durkheim is trying to show that something as private and individual as suicide can be sociologically determined.
In trying to understand suicide sociologically, Durkheim concentrates on two sociological variables, integration and regulation, and argues that too much or too little of either creates conditions in which suicide becomes more likely.
INTEGRATION and REGULATION
ALTRUISTIC SUICIDE results when an individual is too strongly integrated into his/her group, e.g., in a traditional religious group or into the army, so that s/he easily sacrifices her/himself either for the sake of the group or because s/he cannot face its disapproval. Egoistic suicide on the other hand, results when an individual is not integrated very strongly into any group at all, when s/he recognizes nothing higher than her/himself and has few social supports in time of trouble. Excessive social regulation produces what Durkheim calls fatalistic suicide, and he gives the example of the suicide of slaves who are unable to influence at all the rules under which they must live. The opposite of excessive regulation, the case where regulation is weak or inadequate, is what he calls anomic suicide. Where inordinate desires and fears develop with no clear expectations or rules of conduct, the resulting disorientation can lead to anomic suicide.
Robert Bellah, Emile Durkheim: On Morality and Society, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973),p. Xxviii.