Sociology Index


Altruistic Suicide, Egoistic Suicide, Anomic Suicide

Fatalistic Suicide is a type of suicide identified by David Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), occurring in social conditions where the individual experiences pervasive oppression. Durkheim has defined fatalistic suicide as resulting "from excessive regulation." Suicide by individuals whose passions are choked by oppressive discipline. The condition of slavery may make an individual feel that the only way to find escape is suicide. We would call it fatalistic suicide because the individual considers himself condemned by fate or doomed to be a slave. Here, is a fatalistic situation calling for a fatalistic suicide as a solution or escape.

The category of fatalistic suicide was constructed mainly for purposes of symmetry (as contrasted with egoistic suicide) and because it would undercut his central claims about the role of modern urban life as increasing the incidence of suicide, Durkheim could never seriously examine the possibility that social integration could result in suicide. Fatalistic suicide served as a descriptor for suicides in traditional societies, because Durkheim was faced with the issue that even in societies with abundant social capital, individuals nevertheless killed themselves.

"Fatalistic suicide arises from “excessive regulation” that pitilessly blocks the possibilities of future. Individuals do not want their lives due to the extremely suppressing environment. The suicides of those suffering from mental and physical oppression are closer to fatalistic suicide". - "Labor Politics of Suicide in Korea", Lim, Hyun-Chin. and Hwang, Suk-Man.

Durkheim distinguished between egoistic, anomic, altruistic, and fatalistic suicide. Dismissing altruistic and fatalistic suicide as unimportant, he viewed egoistic suicide as a consequence of the deterioration of social and familial bonds and linked anomic suicide to disillusionment and disappointment.

Egoistic suicide occurs when an individual has a low level of integration into society, while fatalistic suicide occurs in a highly regulated, social environment where the individual sees no possible way to improve his or her life.

Women's Fatalistic Suicide in Iran - A Partial Test of Durkheim in an Islamic Republic. Akbar Aliverdinia, University of Mazandaran, William Alex Pridemore, Indiana University. This version was published on March 1, 2009 - Violence Against Women, Vol. 15, No. 3 (2009).
Durkheim's theory of fatalistic suicide, or suicide resulting from overregulation of behavior, has been neglected empirically. The authors test this hypothesis in Iran by examining the geographic distribution of female suicide. They examine the association between female suicide rates and multiple measures of social control of women, with rates expected to be higher in areas with greater social regulation of the lives of women and stronger traditional tribal cultures. Provinces with lower levels of female education, female labor force participation, and urbanization have higher female suicide rates. Whereas social deregulation is often associated with higher suicide rates in the West, the authors' findings reveal that hyperregulation is associated with higher suicide rates in Iran, at least for women.

Durkheim's theory of fatalistic suicide: a cross-national approach. The Journal of social psychology 1979;107(Second Half):161-8.

Altruism and Fatalism: the characteristics of Palestinian suicide terrorists
Pedahzur A.; Perliger A.; Weinberg L.
Deviant Behavior, Volume 24, Number 4, July-August 2003 , pp. 405-423(19)
The suicide method became one of the most prevalent tactics of Palestinian Terrorism in Israel. Who are these people willing to sacrifice their lives and what drives them to do such things? We answer these questions, while relying on the concepts of altruistic and fatalistic suicide from Durkheim's typology of suicide behavior. Palestinian suicide terrorists from 1993 until the beginning of 2002, fit the "altruistic" type as well as some elements from the "fatalistic" and represent a combination of both types; thus they can be labeled under a new category of "fatalistic altruistic" suicide.

Suicides in prison fall into two groups: egoistic and fatalistic (Durkheim typology). Egoistic suicide occurs when an individual has a low level of integration into society, while fatalistic suicide occurs in a highly regulated, social environment where the individual sees no possible way to improve his or her life. Therefore, most suicides in prison are egoistic, whereas those by death row inmates may be both egoistic and fatalistic, because they are socially isolated and heavily regulated, and at the same time, weakly integrated. - Lester D, Danto BL: Suicide Behind Bars: Prediction and Prevention. Philadelphia: The Charles Press, 1993.