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Suicide in the Military Research Papers

Suicide in the military research papers look at factors that attribute to the high rate of suicide in the military since 9/11. Our military science writers can help you understand the factors that are attributed to the rise in suicide.

The events of September 11, 2001 fueled a war between the United States and the Taliban. As a result of this, thousands of soldiers have been shipped overseas to the Middle East to defend the United States and attempt to eliminate this worldly threat. Since 2001, the soldiers in the United States military have been exposed to harsh elements, traumatic situations, and other hardships of war. This has prompted an increase in injuries, mental illness, and post-traumatic stress disorder in military soldiers. It can be argued that these recent trends, and others, have contributed to increased suicide rates among military populations.

Traditionally a Low Suicide Rate

Traditionally, those that serve in the United States military experience a lower rate of suicide than the civilian population. Suicide in the MilitaryHowever, in the last ten years this statistic has changed drastically. Research studies have concluded that since 2001, those that serve in the United States military now experience a higher rate of suicide than the civilian population and their predecessors. In addition to an increases in injuries, mental illness, and stress; war-time soldiers of today experience other factors that have contributed to the drastic increase of suicide. The following are common factors that increase the risk for suicide among soldiers:

  1. Multiple deployments
  2. Heavy combat experience
  3. Stress related to dire economic conditions
  4. Genetically related issues are believed to also contribute to this occurrence.
  5. Military experts have also questioned if exposure to biological weapons while in combat play a role in the increased rates of suicide in military populations.

Durkheim and Suicide

Emile Durkheim is best known for his social philosophies that correlate directly to religion. Believing that all of human motivation stemmed directly from religious beliefs, Durkheim was able to establish a number of social, political, and moral ideologies based on examining human behavior from this standpoint.  While it is clear that Durkheim has had a profound impact on the study of sociology—having most of his works translated from his native French into English by the early twentieth century—it was not until 1951 that Durkheim’s more obscure work on the sociological study of suicide was translated.  While it is clear that Durkheim’s work on suicide is not as broad or well defined as what can be found in current academic literature on the subject, Durkheim’s Suicide: A Study in Sociology, is one of the authors most important works because it “is among the very first modern examples of consistent and organized use of statistical method in sociological investigation”.

Looking more critically at Durkheim’s text, the central thesis of the author’s argument is that “suicide which appears to be a phenomenon relating to the individual is actually explicable aetiologically with reference to the social structure and its ramifying functions”. Thus, Durkheim is able to take the process of suicide, in a myriad of different settings and among a wide range of populations and show that while the individual often believes that the process of suicide is an individual event, it is actually part of a larger social dynamic that can be identified and understood. While Durkheim’s thesis may at first be hard to swallow—as psychologists and psychiatrists have spent years studying the epidemiology of depression and the onset of suicidal behavior—it is clear that the author’s research definitively demonstrates that suicide is indeed a social phenomenon.

To conclude his work, Durkheim proposes that because his text definitively defines suicide, the final question for the reader to consider is whether or not this process is a normal or abnormal act. Although Durkheim argues that society’s judgment of normal or abnormal is contingent upon social and cultural discourse, he finally concedes that the prevalence of suicide in modern society is indeed an abnormal phenomenon. “The abnormal development of suicide and the general unrest of contemporary societies spring from the same causes. The exceptionally high number of voluntary deaths manifests the state of deep disturbance from which civilized societies are suffering, and bears witness to its gravity”.

In the end Durkheim notes that regardless of its fundamental causes, suicide is a deeper reflection of the problems that exist within society.  The process that leads to suicide is abnormal, however, as Durkheim notes there are aspects of society that are abnormal. Overall, it is clear that despite Durkheim’s, somewhat clinical approach to the subject of suicide, the author is acutely aware of what such large numbers of “voluntary deaths” mean for the state of human society.  Thus, Durkheim is able to effectively demonstrate that suicide is not simply a reflection of individual beliefs or actions; it is truly a refection of modern social discourse.

Critiquing Durkheim’s work from a personal standpoint, it is clear that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed.  Most pertinent among them is whether or not Durkheim’s arguments can be accepted within the larger framework of sociological investigation.  Arguably, Durkheim’s attempts to quantify the sociological constructs of suicide are quite rudimentary.  Especially when they are considered within the context of modern statistical research.  However, if the reader stops and takes a moment to consider when the original text was written (in the early 1900s), it is clear that that Durkheim’s work is extraordinary for the time period.  His ideologies and his ability to correlate the sociological with the scientific propelled the discipline of social science research to new heights.  In this respect, Durkheim’s work is indeed a crowning achievement.

In addition to considering Durkheim’s’ methods, one must also consider his conclusions.  In the broadest explication, Durkheim attempts to prove that suicide can be sociologically explained through the interpretation of scientific data.  Researchers have vastly explored this approach to social science investigation in the twentieth century.  From the development of Likert type questionnaires that attempt to quantify individual feelings or belief systems to the extrapolation of interview data for analysis through such techniques as ANOVA or SPSS, researchers are continually looking for that scientific edge that will make the quantification of qualitative data more scientifically valid.  In this respect, Durkheim was ahead of his time.


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