:Soc M138: The 51% rule of suicide
:Soc M138: The 51% rule of suicide Sociology M138
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Freddie816 on Wednesday April 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology M138 at University of California - Los Angeles taught by Timmermans in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 33 views. For similar materials see Death, suicide and trauma in Sociology at University of California - Los Angeles.
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Date Created: 04/13/16
4/13/16 ● Suicide from Durkheim's perspective ○ Every society has differing views about suicide ● How is a suicide classified by death investigators? ○ The main takeaway from today’s lecture on the classification of suicide, is that it is very controversial. Classifying a death as a suicide is controversial because suicide connotes a certain negative stigma that at most times than not, the deceased person’s family attempts to “hide,” such as by getting rid of suicide notes. ■ Ex sherman (son) accidentally shoots himself and his death becomes classified as a suicide. Sherman’s family does not want to accept this verdict and they fight for years to have their sons mode of death changed ● Stigma of suicide implies a disconnection of the deceased and his family ○ It is difficult to accurately validate suicide statistics because: ■ A lot of suicides are not reported ■ Suicidal intents disappear after someone dies (evidence of a suicide disappears) ■ Family members try to hide a suicide ○ What are the requirements to classify a death as a suicide? ■ It must be demonstrated that death was selfinflicted and intentional (intent is hard to ignore if a death is caused by hanging oneself) ○ What is the evidence for suicide, when the one who committed the act is dead? ■ Witness reports ■ Suicide notes ■ Suicide guidelines (how to books) ■ Previous suicidal attempts ■ Testimonials from relatives ■ Life crises ■ Mode of dying (violent such as hangingdifficult to classify this as an accident) But, no single piece of evidence is classified as the “only thing” that is required to classify a death as a suicide/No specific skill set is “allrevealing”. A classification of a death as a suicide is not an ideal match for the pathologist because suicide poses a lot of confusion ○ How do Coroners classify a death as a suicide? ■ Usually, coroners have no expertise in the health field, for instance, the professor notes that in order to become a coroner, one simply registers for the position and the community decides if he is hired for the position or not ● Therefore, it is up to the coroner to decide what evidence becomes a sign of suicide. He usually does this by focusing on friend and family testimonials of the deceased ○ How does a Medical examiner gain his position? 4/13/16 ■ Board certified ■ Very specialized in school ■ Less political visibilitybrings more science to deaths not politics (focus on biological factors/pathology to find underlying disease ○ So how do these different positions alter the way a suicide is classified? ■ Coroners tend to focus more on relative testimonials in order to determine if death is caused by suicide ■ Examiners tend to focus more on pathology in order to find underlying diseases ● Argue that they need to be 51% sure that death was caused by suicide in order to classify death as a suicide ○ To declare a death as a suicide poses a lot of confusion and thus is not an idealized by the examiner ● Ex diabetic man is found dead from a potential insulin overdose. Suicide notes are found and further evidence that gears towards death as a suicide is ignored and verdict becomes “death from a natural cause” ○ In this case, suicide notes are unconvincing to the examiner because a suicide note is not enough evidence to classify a death as a suicide, a suicide note does not corroborate with other evidence ○ This neglect of classifying the mode of death as a suicide may be due to the fact that medical examiners focus on medical procedures and thus most likely find medical issues within the patient and use this as evidence as the most likely cause of death ■ A suicide note just poses confusion ○ Furthermore, most of the evidence used by examiners comes from physicians and the police, not from outside sources such as the family. Thus, the main argument is that these reasons, pose problems for why death is not classified as a suicide ■ Rule of proximity ● The closer one is to the deceased the less that he want the deceased’s mode of death to be classified as a suicide ● Public health workers only see epidemiological evidence in modes of death (not psychological factors ○ Main argument: There is no gold standard to classify a death a suicide ■ Suicide is classified by who is doing the classifying (depending on who is determining the mode of death, favor certain evidence) ● Social meaning of suicideDouglas ○ Douglas came to the conclusion, by focusing on psychological conversations, that suicide is an act of communication that intends to change the way an individual is 4/13/16 perceived. By attempting to commit suicide, individuals are attempting to send the message that “this is who I am” and everything that one previously thought, is wrong (a radical definition of oneself) ■ One is a romantic etd ■ Medical conclusions obscures communication ○ Suicides as a call for sympathy ■ Ie more suicidal attempts than actual acts are committed ■ Attempts are seen as cries for help/a way to manipulate others to do what you want them to do (expressions of ambivalent intentions) ○ Suicide as a call for aggression ■ Intent is for loved ones to mourn for a long amount of time ■ Intent is to hurt others financially ■ Intent is to leave a negative stigma ■ Intent is to blame others for the cause of one’s death ○ Suicide and the common escape theme ■ Suicide is a way to escape from life ■ Suicide leads to a continuous mode of life (a better afterlife) ● Suicide is committed in order to “live” iemartyr ○ conclusions/assumptions ■ Suicide is a meaningful communicative act (social act), performed with the intent to die in order to redefine who one is. Suicide thus becomes a dramatic means of communication that makes a firm statement: this is who I am ■ My interpretation, the main takeaway from this lecture is very simple: classifying a death as a suicide is very controversial and involves a lot of methods of evaluation to reach this verdict. Suicide itself has a negative stigma and therefore friends and family will hide all evidence that gears towards a suicide from the scene, in order to not live with this negative stigma. Furthermore, medical examiners tend to focus on pathological evidence in order to determine death. This can be seen as a winwin situation for both examiners and the family because medical examiners do not intentionally avoid classifying a death as a suicide, rather, they focus on factual medical evidence such as clogged arteries. In addition, medical examiners believe that other signs of the mode of death obscures their verdict and therefore classifying death as a suicide, pose a problem. Thus, medical examiners tend to not classify death as a suicide (not intentionally) ■ Furthermore, an act of suicide is a form of communication that sends the message: this is who I am. These messages can be either negative or positivethey can be seen as heroic acts or an act of a romantic. Furthermore, suicidal acts can be cries for sympathy or acts of aggression that continue to affect family and surrounding members once the deceased has died.
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