Egoistic & Anomic Suicide: Definition & Difference

Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

In this lesson, you will learn about two types of suicide: egoistic and anomic suicide. The definitions and differences will be covered and some examples will be discussed.

A Look at Egoistic & Anomic Suicide: Liam and Betty

Liam is a 42-year-old businessman. He works 12-hour days, six days a week, and spends very little time with his children and his wife. When Liam is home, he spends most of his time sleeping. Liam has never attended any of his children's sports events or practices, and he knows very little about their lives. In the past few years, Liam's relationship with his wife has become increasingly strained. Finally fed up with his behavior, Liam's wife divorces him and gains full custody of their children. Without his family, Liam feels lost and alone. He does not know how to pick up the pieces and pull himself together. Three months after the divorce is finalized, Liam takes his own life.

Betty has always considered herself a loner. She has very few friends, and spends most of her time in her home watching television. Betty is unmarried, has no children, and does not work. Lacking future goals and direction, and feeling like she has no purpose in life, Betty decides to commit suicide.

Definitions & Examples

Suicide refers to when a person intentionally ends his or her own life. One of the questions sociologists have attempted to answer is, 'What drives people to commit suicide?' Sociologist Emile Durkheim argued that one way in which we can explain suicide is by looking at societal factors. Durkheim believed that when the social bonds between people in a society are either too strong or too weak, there is an increase in the rate of suicide of the society's members.

Durkheim identified two societal factors that influence the rate of suicide. One factor is integration, or the extent to which an individual is a part of his or her society. The second factor is regulation, or the extent to which an individual's actions and desires are being controlled by his or her society. So, what happens when there is not enough integration or regulation? To answer this question, we must look closely at Liam and Betty.

In Betty's case, she was not very integrated into her society. Betty committed egoistic suicide, which occurs when a person commits suicide as a result of not feeling like they belong to society; they struggle to find a reason to live. People who commit egoistic suicide have weak or very little social bonds to their society. For example, Betty was a loner with few friends, no husband, and no children. She was obviously disconnected from her society. This ultimately led to her suicide.

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