Sociology is the scientific study of human life, social groups, whole societies and human world as such. It is a dazzling and compelling enterprise as its subject-matter is our own behaviour as social beings. The scope of sociology is extremely wide, ranging from the analysis of passing encounters between individuals on the street to the investigation of international relations and global forms of terrorism (Giddens, 2009) In Australia, the problem of youth suicide has gradually worsened since 1960.
Whereas in the past suicide was positively correlated with age, that is, the risk of suicide increased with age, the evidence presented since 1964 shows suicide risk has significantly increased in two theatres of life. The very young and the very old. In the same period, there has been a relative and absolute decline in the suicide rate of people aged between 35 and 60. The suicide rate of the cohort which is now parenting the teenagers has experienced a remarkable decline over the past thirty years. Hassan, 1991)
This essay will explore sociological theories and reasons on the issue of deviant behaviour, teenage suicide, and some included statistics on teenage suicide. Also included is a Christian perspective on teenage suicide. Suicide of young Australians has been increasing over the past thirty years. One in six deaths of males and one in nine deaths of females aged fifteen to nineteen years in 2005 was caused by suicide. In 1966 the corresponding figure was only one in twenty for the age group 15 to 19 of ages. currently there is about one teenage suicide every forty-seven hours.
An estimated 9,000 years of life are lost every year due to teenage suicides. In economic terms, adolescent suicides cost millions of dollars every year to the Australian economy. The loss, pain and grief suffered by the family and the community is even far greater and more profound than the economic loss. (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2005) There are many factors that influence on teenage suicide. Two of the biggest factors are unemployment and family decline. The phase of increasing youth suicide firmly corresponds to the high youth unemployment Rates.
The increase in prevalence was primarily concentrated among the young men. Unemployment in general and extended unemployment in particular is connected with low self-esteem and with emotional, economic and psychological insecurity. Because of the influential roles which are emphasised in male socialisation processes, low self esteem and continuous insecurity exposes them to a high degree of stress which requires skilled management (Hassan 1991). Those who cannot cope with it become more vulnerable to self destructive behaviour.
A number of studies in Australia and overseas have confirmed the association between suicide and unemployment (Martina 1985; Hassan & Tan 1989). Unemployment appears to have different effects on men and women. One possible explanation is the different socialisation patterns of women and men. More commonly, but less recently prevalent is women are socialised into domestic roles which enable them to find meaningful activities in the domestic domain, which reduces the sense of loss, loss of status, loss of self-esteem and loss of social contacts.
This is different to what is experienced by unemployed men who are predominantly socialised into instrumental social roles. Other possible reasons may be that since most frequently men use violence of guns and car accidents, and women use self-poisoning to suicide. This means that chances of women surviving serious suicide attempts are now greater than men because of advances in intensive care medical technology and, also, it may still be possible for the family to ‘conceal’ female suicide more frequently than male suicide (Hassan, 1991).
There is now considerable reliable clinical evidence which points to a close connection between suicidal behaviour and parent-child relationships. According to Hendin (1987), the background of suicidal young people repeatedly involves parental figures who were frustrating, rejecting and unkind. The parents seem to want the child’s presence, but without emotional involvement. They want him or her to fulfil parental expectations, though as parents they have given the child little support and incentive to do so.
The young person may accept parental expectations in a mechanical manner without deriving much happiness or satisfaction from fulfilling them. At the same time, they do not feel free to act in ways that would separate them from their parents. Adolescents in such circumstances may make few emotional demands but become instead withdrawn, depressed, and can quietly become occupied with death and suicide (Hendin 1987). If these clinically based findings are valid, then the changes in the Australian family and its organisation and structure may have significantly influenced the youth suicide rates in Australia.
Family type consisting of wife, husband and dependent children account for little over one-quarter of the Australian families. The fastest growing family type over the past twenty years was the single parent family (Hassan, 1991). The actual number of children who have spent or will spend part of their childhood in a single-parent family situation is likely to be significantly higher. There has been a simultaneous increase in couples living in de facto relationships, and in the divorce rate.
These trends clearly suggest that the Australian family is undergoing a significant change in its organisation, composition and structure. These changes highlight the new emerging patterns of social organisation (Hassan, 1991). The study of sociology has brought many different theories on issues such as teenage suicide and deviance. Robert K. Merton (1936), in his discussion of deviance, proposed a typology of deviant behavior. In this case, Merton was proposing a typology of deviance based upon two criteria: (1) a person’s motivations or her adherence to cultural goals; (2) a person’s belief in how to attain their goals.
According to Merton, there are five types of deviance based upon these criteria: •Conformity involves the acceptance of the cultural goals and means of attaining those goals (e. g. , a banker) •Innovation involves the acceptance of the goals of a culture but the rejection of the traditional and/or legitimate means of attaining those. •Ritualism involves the rejection of cultural goals but the routinized acceptance of the means for achieving the goals •Retreatism involves the rejection of both the cultural goals and the traditional means of achieving those goals (e. . , a homeless person who is homeless more by choice than by force or circumstance). •rebellion is a special case wherein the individual rejects both the cultural goals and traditional means of achieving them but actively attempts to replace both elements of the society with different goals and means (e. g. , a communist revolution) One thing that makes Merton’s typology interesting is that common people can turn to deviance in the chase of normally accepted social values and goals.
For example, an individual who trades in illegal contraband has rejected the culturally acceptable means of making money, but still shares the widely accepted cultural value of making money in the first place. Therefore the deviance can be the result of accepting one norm, but breaking another in order to pursue the first(Merton, 1936). The structural-functionalist approach would argue that deviance and deviant behavior play a role in society that is just as important as many other roles. The rationale for this would include the fact that deviance helps draw lines about what is socially accepted behavior.
In other words deviance helps distinguish between what is acceptable behavior, and what is not. This is important because it affirms the cultural values and norms of a society for the members of the society. In addition to clarifying the moral boundaries of society, deviant behavior can also promote social unity, but it does so at the expense of the deviant individuals, who are obviously excluded from the sense of unity derived from differentiating the non-deviant from the deviants (Kornblum, 2003). The Bible has particular scriptures that pertain to suicide.
These include the fact that from a biblical perspective, the issues of life and death should be left for God to decide. Job said to God, ” A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. ” (Job 14:5). Moreover, suicide goes against the commandments of God. In fact, the sixth commandment tells us, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). This command is based on the sanctity of human life. We must remember that man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).
More important for a Christian than the reasons why the bible suggests not to commit suicide, are the reasons why and individual would consider it in the first place. Coming to terms with the causes such as depression, low-self esteem, and mental illness to help those in need is something that God commands of us. In 2 Corinthians 1:8 Paul stated: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. ” Although we may fall under times of suffering and need, God encourages us to depend on him.
Courtney from Study Moose
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