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Suicide is perhaps the most personal action an individual can take upon oneself and yet it has a profound social impact Perhaps this is because social relationships play such an important role in its causation It is also perhaps the least understood crime or act due to the fact that obviously the dead cant speak Emile Durkheim was instrumental in bringing a new understanding of suicide when in a sociological study he conceived his theory of suicide and its relationship with society Perhaps put more accurately his theory was about society and its relationship with suicide For Durkheim suicide was a symptom of a wider social disease Stengel 1964 To cure it society had to be reformed Emile Durkheim was first and foremost a sociologist so his studies are sociological in nature His main principle was that social facts such as suicide must be studied as realities external to the individual Suicide although apparently a highly personal act was explicable only by the state of the society to which the individual belonged Stengel 196448 He argued that every society has a public conscience that constrains and impresses certain ideas that exist independent of the individual but is endowed with coercive power by virtue of which they impose themselves upon him independent of his individual will Durkheim 197158The extent to which the individuals in a society either conforms or resists the social constraints imposed by the public conscience reflects that societys collective inclination Each society therefore had a collective inclination to suicide and this collective inclination becomes the source for all individual inclinations to suicide Hassan 1995 His theory of suicide then is that when social conditions are in an unhealthy state and individuals social interactions fail to meet their own social needs that a certain number of suicide-prone individuals respond my committing suicide Hassan 19953 In other words the suicide rates of a particular society reflect the extent to which it is socially
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