Ulasan suicide

Published on May 20th, 2014 | by Syaila Rizal


Understanding Suicide in Indonesia

The issue of suicide has gained wide attention from various media throughout Indonesia. These cases of suicides often take place in the form of hanging oneself, drinking poison, jumping from a building, etc. One of the most surprising incidents was the case of suicide conducted by a whole family. This incident occurred to Anita (58), who committed suicide along with her son Rudito (39), her daughter Lina (41), and her grandson Dani (11). Based on an investigation of the crime scene at their house, the police managed to secure several evidences, such as a glass and liquid pesticide. The pesticide was allegedly taken deliberately to end their lives.

Kasat Reskrim Polres Cirebon Kota AKP Hidayatulah declared that his temporary allegation is the victims were desperate due to their large debt. He said that he had asked the hotel manager for information about the suicide victims. It was assumed that the reason for this suicide incident was because the family’s business in Karuhanan Bendan and Kraton was in debt and facing troubles. “Allegedly, they were all desperate and did that (drink poison) because of economic problems,” said one of their relatives, Citro.

At first glance, suicidal behavior can be defined as a personal or individual choice. Suicide is often done as a result of desperation, whereas the cause is often associated with psychiatric disorders such  as  depression,  bipolar  disorder,  schizophrenia,  alcohol  dependence  /  alcoholism,  or drug abuse.

However, according to Emile Durkheim (1897), individuals do not cause suicide; suicide is a social fact that some members of society participate in for various social reasons. Durkheim studied suicide among several categories of people in various contexts in Western Europe. He found 4 distinctive types of suicides that occur as social facts and could be collectively remedied by adjusting social processes.

There are 2 core sociological concepts that Durkheim used to explain briefly about suicide. The first one is social integration, which is the degree to which people are connected to their social groups. Second is anomie, a state of relative normlessness that comes from the disintegration of our routines and regulations.

Dhurkheim’s first two types of suicide had to do with the degree of social integration of the individuals into their groups.  Altruistic Suicide is suicide which occurs when people are over-involved and overcommited to a group or society as a whole. This occurs when the needs of society as a whole override the needs of the individual.

Egoistic Suicide is suicide which occurs when people are under-involved or undercommitted to groups. This one is the loner-type suicide when an individual is disconnected from others.

The next type of suicide relates with the levels of social control and social regulations. Anomic Suicide is a form of suicide which occurs when people are under-regulated by familiar norms that serve as anchors to their social reality.

Fatalistic suicide is a type of suicide which occurs when people are over-regulated or overconstrained. This happens in oppressive societies where people prefer to die rather than continue under the hopeless state of oppression.

In Indonesia, the suicide rate about hard to come by. It still seems to be something that is not important enough to be revealed. With adequate data, we will be able to analyze deeper the types of people who are more prone to commit suicide; for instance, whether it is men or women, whether it is people from a high or low socioeconomic status, and which religious affiliation they belong to.

Using Durkheim’s theory, we can infer that the suicidal incident of Anita’s family is categorized as an anomic suicide, because it happened due to the failure of their family business. This failure led to the loss of jobs of the family members, and even worse, they had to struggle with a large amount of debt. As they were going through a sudden change in their lives, they lost the sense of regulative influence that they once had. This sudden change brought stress and frustration to their family.

It can also be seen that there are pressure within the family in order to fulfill their roles in the family, such as providing material needs for the family’s security. However, this action actually destroyed the role of the family. Such as providing security in non-material also the other functions such us controli, etc. Even though it looked like there was also a very strong affective function within the family, which led them to the willingness to commit a mass suicide.

Not only that, this case may also be caused by external social forces. Moreover, when the power of regulation in society is disrupted, it also exacerbated their condition. They deemed it difficult to find solutions for their own problems, as well as lack the social controls over their family to aplicate ommon norms; hence, the tendency to perform destructive actions. They felt hopeless with other social units that may be able to help them. So suicide becomes the alternative ending to solve their problems.

Another interesting thing is the contradiction of Integration, because on one hand when they do not get social control and social support that are stronger than the broader community towards solving them. This reflects the lack of integration that exists in society today. But on the other hand, when they committed suicide  to run from the sense of embarrassment due to not being able to pay their debts and the fear of legal sanctions, we can also see there is a strong community integration. When an individual is no longer able to behave as the others expect him/her to, he/she tends to be unable to deal with the social sanctions that they may receive. Therefore, suicide is seen as the only alternative solution to escape such problems.

Finally, the solutions that could be taken for the aforementioned matters are to build a strong connection with the family and community, promote our cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide, as well as support self-preservations and other types of social supports.

picture taken from http://www.anfocal.ie/comment/1677/we-need-to-talk-about-suicide

About the Author

Syaila Rizal

Mahasiswa Sosiologi UI angkatan 2009. Saat ini bekerja sebagai Junior Media Analyst. Bertempat tinggal di Jakarta Selatan.

One Response to Understanding Suicide in Indonesia

  1. Praditya Andika Putra says:

    Actually the analysis is very good. The author tried explain how suicide is the social phenomena which affected by social forces in sociological concept. But I have some critiques from this articel:
    1. The theoretical framework which used is still conservative, the author just look in macro level. How about the relevance structure which in suicide actor when the decide to kill him/her self as the action.

    2. The level of analysis is still on surface, What is the connection between Social integration and suicide? why they choose suicide? why they don’t choose other action?. why they choose kill them self when the social integration is too strong or too weak? or could have been the relationship between social integration and suicide in statistical concept is apparent relationship?

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