Friday, 9 March 2012

Andrew Smith
Friday, 09 March 2012

The death of a friend or family member is a very emotional time for everyone involved in the person’s life. One of the most important aspects for many people is to have closure over how and why the person died. A person may die for many reasons, old age, illness or injury, but the one aspect of death that for many leaves those behind with the most questions is suicide. Yesterday I attended the funeral of a friend who had taken his own life and unfortunately has left all his family and friends with so many unanswered questions and in some ways no chance of complete closure.

Psychologists have done a great deal of research into the subject of suicide, but to my recollection only the great Emile Durkheim in his famous study ‘Suicide’ has done the same for sociology. I may very well be wrong, but while study books mention the subject, it is only very briefly.
But for me the question is why? Why isn’t this a subject of interest to sociologists and why isn’t it more preeminent in the study of sociology? Surely such a sociological study of the pressures and stresses of modern, 21st century living could prove invaluable to helping professionals understand what we are doing in our society to cause people to take their own life?

For myself this would involve looking at recent history and how society and attitudes in society have changed. In my own lifetime I have seen many, many changes that as a child and young adult I would never have believed. Three areas for myself have seen a technological explosion over the last twenty to thirty years, they have changed society beyond all recognition. These areas are Television, Computing and the Mobile Phone.

But how could these three areas have an impact on a person to such an extent that they would take their life? Surely the technological revolution we have lived through can only have a positive effect on our lives? We can now talk to anyone when we want, take a photograph anytime we want, talk to someone thousands of miles away and much, much more. How can any of this be seen as a negative?

Imagine for a minute that you like to be on your own, in your own company, yes you do have a few select friends and can mingle with people very well, but beneath this persona you are far more content with your own company, reading books, writing songs and poetry and watching TV and films.
In the 70s, 80s and part of the 90s, you could live this lifestyle and not feel that modern living was suffocating you. What do I mean?

Well imagine being bombarded with images and stories all day long, each and every day of how we need to be socially acceptable by being social, of people enjoying themselves, people being in love and so much more. Whereas in the past you could escape all this, forget about it and live in your own little world if you do desired, nowadays it is becoming increasingly difficult to do this.

If it is not the mobile phone, it is the computer or the television. Every time you want your own piece of personal space and solitude, someone somewhere can get hold of you and if it is not someone trying to get hold of you, then you are constantly checking your mobile phone or email just to make sure you have not missed something.

Is it any wonder then that some people in society feel that they cannot escape life anymore and are feeling constant pressure and stress to perform, smile and laugh all the time, and when they feel they cannot live up to the expectations and aspirations of society they feel that the only way to cope is to get out and end their life?

In an increasingly smaller world do more and more people feel that they are being pushed to the fringes of society and over the edge?

Thank you for reading my blog J

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