Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Suicide, its Causes and Factors
Man naturally wants to live. He wants to maintain his body and prolong his life by all means available. In fact he spends good deal of his energy and resources towards finding ways and means to extend to the uppermost limit of longevity of existence on this planet, nay he dreams and wishes to conquer death and reverse the processes of ageing. He wants to avoid even minor hurts. It is often observed that a man involved in a major accident or a soldier injured by multiple bullet injuries when admitted to hospital is asked by the doctor; your left and right arm are affected by gangrene and these must be amputated to prevent general poisoning of the body immediately. May we proceed? The patient may feel depressed and, for a while, may think about the futility of life. But soon he recovers himself and asks of the doctor: Shall I be able to live and feel healthy? The doctor nods and the patient willingly consent. The self-same story is repeated again and again in the Emergency operation theatres of the hospitals all over the world. This confirms the fact, if ever a confirmation was needed, that this urge for survival is most deep-rooted and fundamental in man. As a matter of fact, the instinct of self-preservation is primordial and pivotal of all other urges; because, without survival nothing can be worthwhile. All these facts, not withstanding, some persons do put an end to their lives. Then there are some persons who individually and rationally choose to die. Such persons commit suicide, that is, sui (self) + cide (killing). Such cases are no doubt few and such persons are somehow abnormal; their reactions to life and certain events are extremely uncommon, not to be found in average man. Though these reactions to life and such individuals are very few and far between, they are to be found at all times in every clime and every society. Thus the act of suicide is universal and timeless; there is no society and no time where the acts of suicide are non-occurrent. However, suicide, besides being personal, is also a social event and is profoundly affected by social problem. His study of sociology includes study of both social organisation and social disorganization. In social disorganization we study those problems which disturb the social organisation and are productive of subversion in society. Suicide is one such problem. Therefore, the study of suicide and the investigation of its nature and prevention form the subject matter of sociology.
Definition of Suicide
1. Encyclopaedia Brittannica defines suicide as “the act of voluntary and intentional self destruction.” This emphasizes two salient features of the act of suicide: (1) that suicide involves the “will of the person, which consents and acquiesces in willing self-destruction: and (2) “Knowledge” that death is being preferred to life and that reason in person concerned is an award of and he has acknowledged this as a fact and accepted it as inevitable and non-avoidable. Another important fact brought out by this definition is that there is some sort of purpose behind the act of suicide and that without purpose suicide is not possible without desire there can be no intention; and desire presupposes some object or goal, that is, some purpose which has to be attained. Ruth S. Cavan has defined suicide “as the intentional taking of one’s life or the failure when possible to save one’s self when death threatens.”
2. Suicide is an Act which Affects whole Society – If someone indulges in self destruction or commits suicide, not only the members of his family but society as a whole is affected. This is true more or less in every case of suicide; but this is particularly so if the suicide is committed by an eminent scientists, scholar, artist, writer, social reformer etc; because their death deprives the society of their valuable services and may mean an irreparable loss to the society. This fact is illustrated by suicides in recent years by eminent personalities Marilyn Monroe and Dr Shah etc, by consuming an over dose of sleeping pills. Recently a Japanese writer of world renown and a recipient of Noble Prize killed himself by cutting his throat. The loss of such persons is deeply regretted by society because society is poorer on account of their deaths.
3. Suicide is a symptomatic of Personal Disorganization – Only if there is total disintegration of the personality of man and he has lost his equilibrium, a person commits suicide. There can not be an urge to put an end to one’s life so overwhelming as to suppress or counter the deep-rooted instinct of self-preservation unless there is some fundamental spiritual unrest and the soul, so to say, undergoes sea-change and is topsy-turvy. The suicide implies complete loss of sense of values in the person and the consequent feeling of emptiness and un-wholeness of everything – every aim or object of living. There is so much mental and physical disintegration that the ultimate escape through death appears to be the only way out.
4. Suicide is symptomatic of Social Disorganization – Besides, being a case of personnel disorganization, suicide also indicates or is symptomatic of social disorganization. The personal disorganization, as a matter of fact, is disorganization of a social unit; and, in as much as a change or deterioration in the unit spells change or deterioration in the whole, individual disorganization is a product of and as well as produces social deterioration in the society. In the least, it clearly foreshadows following fact: the norms and values which underline and govern the society are being seriously questioned and challenged in some quarters and that society lacks the flexibility to accommodate the serious dissent.
Psychological Nature of Suicide
The problem of suicide is highly complex; it can be approached in numerous ways and from various standpoints. A number of eminent psychologists have discussed suicide from the view point of psychology. Among them Freud and Bunsel are the most prominent. Below we shall discuss the views of these authorities of the world of psychological learning and accomplishment.
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