Durkheim’s Types of Suicide and COVID-19
Egoistic suicide has likely increased somewhat with the advent of COVID-19 and the circumstances that it has created. People who engage in this type of behavior tend to be emotionally isolated from the rest of society, which is why they choose to end their lives. Whether they are physically close to others or have to stay at home due to restrictions should not particularly matter, especially due to the Internet’s existence, which enables one to connect with others from anywhere. With that said, it may be argued that if a person likely to commit egoistic suicide meets others physically less often, they are less likely to notice their condition from nonverbal cues. In that sense, it is possible to assert that fewer egoistic suicides are prevented by timely intervention, with the number rising as a result.
Altruistic suicides are also likely to be on the rise, with the specific circumstances surrounding the growth depending on the culture. In less individualistic and ritual-heavy societies, practices such as sati may become more frequent for the sole reason that the deaths that trigger them are also slightly more common. Additionally, regardless of the culture, medical workers are more at risk of infection and death than before COVID-19. Knowing this danger, they choose to keep working and providing help, nevertheless, engaging in altruistically suicidal practices. With that said, societies of the first type are not necessarily common in the present day, and most nations take extensive precautions to safeguard their medical personnel’s health. As such, the rise in altruistic suicides is unlikely to be dramatic, though some growth can likely be observed.
Anomic suicides, on the other hand, are likely to have increased dramatically as a result of the pandemic. The restrictions instituted in most nations worldwide have included business closures, which have led to substantial economic harm, bankruptcies, and job losses. Many people are now unable to find work while also struggling financially and unable to rely on the overloaded social support networks. As a result, the type of breakdown that triggers anomic suicides has become substantially more common, thereby presumably leading to an increase in this variety of event. This type of suicide is also the primary reason for criticism of stringent lockdown policies, as the opponents of the action are concerned over increases in its frequency. The increases in anomic suicides in states that have had less impactful policies are likely to be proportionally less dramatic.
Fatalistic suicide rates may increase somewhat due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the change is unlikely to be substantial. The pressure on the individual by the government is higher than it was before the virus-related restrictions were put into place. However, in most cases, the new regulations cannot be considered severe enough to drive individuals to fatalistic suicide. There will likely be a few people for whom the lockdown will be the final straw, but they are presumably mentally unstable outliers. The restrictions are not comparable to the situations put forward by Durkheim that he opined may lead people to end their lives, such as slavery. Moreover, the closures are presumably not going to be permanent, as that would draw extreme disapproval and open protest from most people. As such, there is neither a sufficient severity nor enough time to create the experience of inescapable oppression and drive people to fatalistic suicide.