Increasing Crimes and Suicides Among Younth

4564 Words Dec 16th, 2012 19 Pages
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Introduction to suicide
Introduction
Suicide is: * A specifically human problem - only humans can will their death and kill themselves. * Ubiquitous - no period of history without records of suicide, no societies where suicide does not occur. * Only a small number of people deliberately end their lives but an area of intense sociological interest - about 7000 works. * Studied for some time, for example, Mazaryk in 1881.
The classic study is Durkheim (1897) 'Le suicide'. But there is a difference of opinion as to the value of Durkheim's work.
Selvin argues, 'sixty years after it first appeared in print... suicide is still a model of social research.'
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* Many of Durkheim's examples assume/take for granted purposive theories of suicide - for example, the purpose of the officer who commits suicide because he has been a coward. * Durkheim refers to healthy and diseased societies - clearly a value judgement. * Durkheim's reference to suicidal forces or suicidogenic currents contradicts the scientific and factual approach of positivisms since these forces are unseen and unmeasurable. * Because these suicidal forces cannot be seen or measured the theory cannot be falsified - no evidence can disprove it.
External
These are criticisms from outside the positivist perspective. They make fundamental criticisms of the whole positivist approach to the study of suicide, its use of official statistics and its claim to scientific status. This alternative approach is based on the interpretive perspective.
Interpretivists place central importance on the role of meaning in human action. It is how a person interprets a situation that gives it a particular meaning and therefore calls forth a particular action. Humans do not simply have an 'automatic' response to external stimuli, they think, and thus behaviour reflects a person's interpretation of the significance of external stimuli. Hence people will respond differently to experiences such as unemployment and divorce, they will not automatically go out and kill themselves.
Interpretivist

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