Economic and sociological analysis of suicide

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There are many reasons why people commit suicide. People can decide to commit suicide themselves or be pushed to do it. Most of the factors, in reality can be explained by the Cost/benefit theory of Economics of Human Behaviour which says that people will do anything until Marginal costs will exceed Marginal benefits.

RELIGIOUS FACTOR - One of the most powerful social factors determining a level of suicides is the religion. Since according to Cost/benefit theory people try to minimize their costs while maximizing benefits and will only do something if Marginal benefits exceed Marginal costs. We can assume that if religious leaders would promise better life and gods forgiveness of all sins people committed, some people under psychological stress would believe them and commit suicide since for the expected benefits would exceed expected costs. This is widely practiced in Islam. According to Islam to die for Allah is the greatest thing a living Muslim can do.

In Judaism on the other hand, value of life is emphasized, and consequently for the sake of preservation of life the devout Jews are allowed to break all religious laws, except for refusal of the god, murder and sexual relationship between relatives. The benefits of life are emphasized in Judaism and for Jews costs of suicide are large than benefits since belief in afterlife is not practiced.

In Christian countries it is a shame to attempt to destroy yourself according to the words of Bible. People who attempted suicide faced refusal of society to accept them and were buried on the edges of cemeteries or by the roads when died. Thus social and religious costs of committing suicide in those countries is very high and are greater than benefits of facing God in Heaven. This is one of the main reasons of the lowest level of suicides now in Italy, Spain and number of the Latin American countries - the huge influence of Catholicism in these countries. It is established by the modern researchers, that as a whole in countries, where the influence of religion is weaker and religious norms connected in particular with suicide are more humanely , the percentage of suicide attempts is higher. Because in countries with high religious influence Gods punishment for killing yourself is much higher and people are afraid to sin by even thinking about suicide.

In World History there were a lot of people who had the gift of persuasion. These people could persuade anyone to do anything and even commit suicide. These individuals often gathered citizens under some idea, attacked these citizens emotionally to break their will in order to gain full control over the minds of these people. These evil masterminds often attempted mass suicide in connection to some important religious date or even public holiday. People believed these individuals because of the promises of great benefits of dying or of simply belonging to some particular religious group and rejecting the rest of the world. After some time the perception of persuaded people was so greatly distorted that the benefit of simply seeing the master was unsurpassed by any of the cost they might have incurred.

The cost of suicide also increases when considering public opinion about suicide: What will other people think of me? . Traditional thought would include God as one of the other persons who might have and express disapproving attitudes[1]. Finally, attendance at religious services potentially gives individuals access to a support network. Those without a support network are most likely to commit suicide.[2] The support network brings a lot of benefits to people, things like new friendships, affiliation, understanding. This increased benefits of life compared to benefits of suicide and made people change their mind to stay alive.

THE SOCIAL FACTORS - Other kind of suicide factors is directly connected to the social reasons, is this case, public situation of any group of people or concrete individual for many independent or personal reasons is so hard and intolerable, in other words the cost of living through another day becomes so high and exceeds benefits by such a great amount that the suicide becomes the only real way to get free from sufferings. Things that raise thoughts of suicide can be: Need of money and work, need for affiliation, death of a beloved person, realization of being unable to change things and never-ending struggle for existence. The rate of suicide in the world can be reflected by the world economic stability. During recessions many people loose their jobs and businesses and have to sell their homes and are forced to follow poor style of life. In 1840-1850 the claim that suicide was an urban phenomenon in Paris and that it was related to poverty and occurred more frequently among laboring poor were repeated by many writers[3]. For these people not only emotional but also monetary costs were enormous. This might have caused depression, sorrows and have led to suicide attempts. It has also proven that in big cities rate of suicide is much higher than in countryside. According to St. Thomas Aquinas Every man belongs to the community. Hence by killing himself he injures the community[4]. Thus, suicide of person imposes high marginal cost on his friends and relatives. It is very important to us what other people think of us and thus we will weight costs and benefits of dying before attempting suicide.

: 28/04/2009