Suicide: Durkehim (March 3, 2009):

How Durkheim's Theory of Suicide fits into Suicide Bombers:

Today we had a guest speaker in our class and she discussed in details about Durkhiem interpretation of ‘suicide’ and then she compared it that how suicidal rate in Russia increased after the demise of communist Soviet Union in 90’s .

She described the three commonly patterns identified by Durkhiem which were commonly found among the people who committed suicide:

Egoistic suicide is committed by people who are not strongly supported by membership in a cohesive social group. As outsiders, they depend more on themselves than on group goals and rules of conduct to sustain them in their lives. In times of stress, they feel isolated and helpless.

Altruistic suicide
is committed by people who are deeply committed to group norms and goals and who see their own lives as unimportant. Basically, these suicides involved dying for a cause.

Anomic suicide is committed by people when society is in crisis or rapid change. In such times, customary norms may weaken or break down. With no clear standards of behavior to guide them, many people become confused, their usual goals lose meaning, and life seems aimless.

There were eye-opening findings which she shared in our class about Russia. It was also very helpful to find that how communist Russia was being rule by the Communist Party and how people were coping with that change and most of the suicides committed by them were Anomic Suicides as there was a huge shift from Communism to the ownership of property which people have not seen for two or three generations. This confusion and shifting of goals made many people’s life aimeless and were feeling themselves misfit in the transitory society.

As we had very little time for discussion in the class, she was kind enough to stay for half an hour after the class. I had a question in my mind which I put before her and the group present at that time.

I am from Pakistan, and my country has experienced a wave of suicide bombings which has taken more innocent lives than the innocent lives lost during 9/11. Earlier I used to think about those suicide bombers’ (terrosists) as a behavior issue. As these children are generally admitted in some radical religious schools where they are taught ‘hatred literature’ against other nations, religions and sects and then are motivated and trained to take suicidal action against their enemies.

After reading Durkhiem and then his interpretation of patterns of suicides, I thought these terrorist do not lie in one category but one finds all these three patterns mentioned above in the motivation for suicidal mission.

They have the egotistic tendencies as majority of the suicide bombers are from poor section of society. They are not only poor but are excluded from the society due to disparity of wealth, basic rights and power imbalance prevalent in the society. They find a great deal of respect and empowerment when they have association with those mentors who are preparing them for a suicidal mission. Therefore the hatred for society is pretty natural for them which treated the with incohesivesness.

Ironically, these terrorists altruistic misinterpret religion as the motivating force pursuing them to go for this mission. They argue that death in the suicidal mission with be a great service for religion and would be a great weapon to eliminate the enemies of religion. They are wrongly brainwashed that not only will their suicide mission will be a great service to the religion but also pave the way for heaven for him and his family after his death.

Surprisingly, there is anomic factor for the increase of suicide bombing. There was a great transition in Afghanistan after 9-11. The extremists were having a safe haven in Afghanistan before 9-11 and life for them was stable. But with the invasion of foreign forces in Afghanistan and then use of military in Pakistan brought a great change in their lives. They were enjoying their barbarian rule but without any external interference. But suddenly, they were at run as the attack from all sides had brought them to react with suicide bombings which was not only to annihilate themselves but also the people around them.

Ii is just an observation but your suggestions and comments may be helpful to look into the issue with a researcher lens.

Source: Blogspot for Cartoon

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