Реферат: Economic and sociological analysis of suicide

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There are many reasons why peoplecommit suicide. People can decide to commit suicide themselves or be pushed todo it. Most of the factors, in reality can be explained by the Cost/benefittheory of Economics of Human Behaviour which says that people will do anythinguntil Marginal costs will exceed Marginal benefits.

RELIGIOUS FACTOR — One ofthe most powerful social factors determining a level of suicides is thereligion. Since according to Cost/benefit theory people try to minimize theircosts while maximizing benefits and will only do something if Marginal benefitsexceed Marginal costs. We can assume that if religious leaders would promisebetter life and god’s forgiveness of all sins people committed, some peopleunder psychological stress would believe them and commit suicide since for theexpected benefits would exceed expected costs. This is widely practiced inIslam. According to Islam to die for Allah is the greatest thing a livingMuslim can do.

In Judaism on the otherhand, value of life is emphasized, and consequently for the sake ofpreservation of life the devout Jews are allowed to break all religious laws,except for refusal of the god, murder and sexual relationship betweenrelatives. The benefits of life are emphasized in Judaism and for Jews costs ofsuicide are large than benefits since belief in afterlife is not practiced.

InChristian countries it is a shame to attempt to destroy yourself according tothe words of Bible. People who attempted suicide faced refusal of society toaccept them and were buried on the edges of cemeteries or by the roads whendied. Thus social and religious costs of committing suicide in those countriesis very high and are greater than benefits of facing God in Heaven.This is one of the main reasons of the lowest level ofsuicides now in Italy, Spain and number of the Latin American countries — thehuge influence of Catholicism  in thesecountries. It is established by the modern researchers, that as a whole incountries, where the influence of religion is weaker and religious normsconnected in particular with suicide are more humanely ,  the percentage of suicide attempts is higher.Because in countries with high religious influence God’s punishment for killingyourself is much higher and people are afraid to “sin” by even thinking aboutsuicide.

         In World History there were a lot of people who had the gift of persuasion.These people could persuade anyone to do anything and even commit suicide.These individuals often gathered citizens under some idea, attacked thesecitizens emotionally to break their will in order to gain full control over theminds of these people. These evil masterminds often attempted mass suicide inconnection to some important “religious” date or even public holiday. Peoplebelieved these individuals because of the promises of great benefits of dyingor of simply belonging to some particular religious group and rejecting therest of the world. After some time the perception of persuaded people was sogreatly distorted that the benefit of simply seeing ‘the master’ wasunsurpassed by any of the cost they might have incurred.

Thecost of suicide also increases when considering public opinion about suicide:“What will other people think of me? “. Traditional thought would include Godas one of “the other persons” who might have and express disapproving attitudes<span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-fareast-font-family:«Times New Roman»; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[1].Finally, attendance at religious services potentially gives individuals accessto a support network. Those without a support network are most likely to commitsuicide.<span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-fareast-font-family:«Times New Roman»; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[2]

The support network brings a lot of benefits to people, things like newfriendships, affiliation, understanding. This increased benefits of lifecompared to benefits of suicide and made people change their mind to stayalive.

THE SOCIAL FACTORS — Other kind of suicidefactors is directly connected to the social reasons, is this case, publicsituation of any group of people or concrete individual for many independent orpersonal reasons is so hard and intolerable, in other words the cost of livingthrough another day becomes so high and exceeds benefits by such a great amountthat the suicide becomes the only real way to get free from sufferings. Thingsthat raise thoughts of suicide can be: Need of money and work, need foraffiliation, death of a beloved person, realization of being unable to changethings and never-ending struggle for existence. The rate of suicide in theworld can be reflected by the world economic stability. During recessions manypeople loose their jobs and businesses and have to sell their homes and areforced to follow poor style of life. In 1840-1850 the claim that suicide was anurban phenomenon in Paris and that it was related to poverty and occurred morefrequently among laboring poor were repeated by many writers<span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-fareast-font-family:«Times New Roman»;color:black; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[3]

. For these people not only emotional but also monetary costs wereenormous. This might have caused depression, sorrows and have led to suicideattempts. It has also proven that in big cities rate of suicide is much higherthan in countryside. According to St. Thomas Aquinas “Every man belongs to thecommunity. Hence by killing himself he injures the community”<span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-fareast-font-family:«Times New Roman»;color:black; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[4]. Thus, suicide of  personimposes high marginal cost on his friends and relatives. It is very importantto us what other people think of us and thus we will weight costs and benefitsof dying before attempting suicide.

Costsand benefits of love may be another social factor of suicide. In JohannGoethe’s «The Sorrows of Young Werther» the main character decides todie because the woman that he loves does not love him back. For him the cost ofrealization that his expected benefits of being together with her is very highand in addition to that the cost of seeing her happy with someone else made thecharacter to shoot himself, for him that was the only way to stop his sorrows andthe benefit of dying was much higher for him at that point. Unfortunate love ofRomeo and Juliet for example led to their suicide, or in “Ethan Frome” the maincharacter decides to slide into a tree with his beloved woman when his wiferefused to let him go.  For thesecharacters the cost of living apart from each other was so high that theydecided to die to be together in another life.<span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-fareast-font-family:«Times New Roman»;color:black; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[5]Finally many young people kill themselves every year because of their love tosome celebrity. Many attempt suicide after their object of affection died oralso committed suicide. They do so because of a high expected benefit of beingwith him/ her in the afterlife and high cost of living without that person intheir lives. E.g. watching that person on TV and realizing that he/she is gone.In the past, a person had to kill himself/herself when his/her spouse died.Examples are:  wife  of a well-known in the Roman history CaesarBrut swallowed pieces of burning coal when she found out about death of herhusband. In India the custom “sati” — self-burning of the widow together with abody of the husband down to XIX of century was not simply sample for imitation,but also obligatory ritual<span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-fareast-font-family:«Times New Roman»;color:black; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[6]

PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS — such as depression and panic. Several studies in recent years havesuggested that people with panic disorder are more likely to attempt suicidethan patients with other psychiatric conditions. One explanation was that panicdisorder, when combined with clinical depression, made people more prone tosuicide<span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-fareast-font-family:«Times New Roman»;color:black; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[7]

.<span Verdana",«sans-serif»"> «Depression is a verysignificant predictor of whether or not a patient with panic disorder willengage in some kind of suicide behavior. But depression alone doesn't accountfor it all» said professor Brad Schmidt of University of Ohio<span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-fareast-font-family:«Times New Roman»; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language: AR-SA">[8]. The study also provedpositive relationship between level of expected anxiety and suicide attemptsrate. For these people the cost of doing virtually anything is risen by thelevel of worry and if for a long time, marginal cost of living through anotherday is much higher than benefits, people can decide to voluntary leave thisworld.

Anotherfactor is human pride and self-honor. In some countries like Japan and Koreahonor is very important self perception, especially for men. There is still atradition of “hara-kiri”, voluntary self-destruction because of failure tocomplete some family or social obligation. For men who “failed” the cost ofliving with their “failure” was too high. They couldn’t look into the eyes ofpeople who they failed and the only solution that was considered  was “hara-kiri”. The benefit of escaping fromshame was so high that these men ( mostly soldiers- samurai) did not even thinkabout physical pain and pain of their friends and relatives. During war timeshigh ranked soldiers were given a chance to kill themselves in order to savetheir honor and die like a hero.   


Methods usedto commit suicide vary on sex and regional bases. E.g. death by firearms ismore common in rural areas where the availability of guns is higher.<span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-fareast-font-family:«Times New Roman»;color:black; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[9]People attempt to lower the cost of the actual effort, thus use methods thatare available to them immediately instead of spending time and money and otherresources. The most common non-fatal suicide attempts in both sexes are drugoverdoses and poisonings<span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-fareast-font-family:«Times New Roman»;color:black; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[10]

.There are differences in the spread of rate of suicide depending on age: Thefacts about senior people are clear: the illnesses and loneliness, decline ofvital forces and absence of iridescent hopes better condition of a body andspirit cause dramatic emotions «of socially active old age ». At thisage the choice is between battling an increasing avalanche of diseases andillnesses or intentional death. Eventhough there are some benefits (e.g.watching grandchildren grow), the cost of living is much higher. Thus thetradeoff between life and death is not so large. Factors such as socialpressures, rejection of people in the same social group, e.g. classmates, workpartners, etc. are major causes of suicide among middle age and youth. Youngpeople can sometimes commit suicide just because of a disagreement insidefamily.


1.<span Times New Roman"">    

“A handbook for thestudy of suicide” edited by Seymour Perlin. Oxford University Press (1975)

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“Suicide and Homicide”Andrew F. Henry and James F. Short Jr. The Free Press, New York ( 1968)

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<a href=«mentalhealth.about.com/library/sci/1001/blpanicsuicide1001.htm?iam=savvy&terms=»%2Bsuicide+%2Bfactors">mentalhealth.about.com/library/sci/1001/blpanicsuicide1001.htm?iam=savvy&terms=%2Bsuicide+%2Bfactors. The Study by the professors of the Ohio University

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www.religioustolerance.org  Ontario Consultants on  Religious Tolerance

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www.befrienders.org/info/statistics.htm. Befrienders International Suicide Statistics

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www.statcan.ca/english/Pgdb/People/Health/health01.html  Suicides, and suicide rate by sex and by agegroup at Statistics Canada.

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“A Handbook of the study of suicide” edited by Seymour Perlin, pg.62

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Quoted from http://www.religioustolerance.org/sui_reli.htm

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“A Handbook of the study of suicide” edited by Seymour Perlin, pg.22

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“A Handbook of the study of suicide” edited by Seymour Perlin, pg.67

              <span Times New Roman",«serif»;mso-fareast-font-family:«Times New Roman»;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">[5]Conclusions are based on the stories of “Ethan Frome”, “Romeo and Juliet” and“The Sorrows of Young Werther”

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Information is taken from Ancient history books

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  From: <a href=«mentalhealth.about.com/library/sci/1001/blpanicsuicide1001.htm?iam=savvy&terms=»%2Bsuicide+%2Bfactors">http://mentalhealth.about.com/library/sci/1001/blpanicsuicide1001.htm?iam=savvy&terms=%2Bsuicide+%2Bfactors   

              Study by Ohio University

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<a href=«mentalhealth.about.com/library/sci/1001/blpanicsuicide1001.htm?iam=savvy&terms=»%2Bsuicide+%2Bfactors">http://mentalhealth.about.com/library/sci/1001/blpanicsuicide1001.htm?iam=savvy&terms=%2Bsuicide+%2Bfactors

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