Reclassification of the Deviant Act in Sociology




Deviance in sociology is illustrated as conduct which is rule breaking in a given society. Norms are laws as well as expectations which guide the members in a community and deviance is therefore nonexistence of conformity to such standards. Different cultures have different social norms, and behavior could be deviant in one society and non-deviant in another. Deviance being regarded as contravening of social standards has been characterized by psychologists as any thought, feeling, or conduct which is judged by the members of the community to be a contravention of their rules or values. In every society there are various manners which are regarded as deviant in that particular society and sociologists have studied about it in depth. Suicide is an act which is considered deviant in many societies presently. However, considering all the aspects which triggers or stimulates an individual to attempt or commit suicide, it is correct to argue that it ought to be reclassified as nondeviant. This paper will discuss various reasons why suicide should not be seen as a deviant act.
Suicide in different ways is perceived as the ultimate action of deviance in many societies. This issue has been a controversial debate with individuals having different opinions about it along with how it would be elucidated. There have been several sociologists who have attempted to elaborate on this behavior which leads to self-destruction. Durkheim studied suicide using empirical data and found that individuals who were less integrated into the society committed suicide more often (In Gitterman, 2014). For individuals to classify a behavior as suicide there has to be a social interpretation of what constitutes suicide. Conduct which fit the standard as in that (behavior which fit people’s opinion on that which constitutes suicide) is therefore considered suicide. Conduct which does not fit that model is identified in other ways, for instance, accidental death, murder among other definitions.
Attempting suicide is regarded as deviant for various reasons. Firstly, it is believed that suicide could be triggered by alcoholism or financial failure. Suicidal behavior is often preceded by an individual defining themselves as helpless, and they turn to others for help and at times when they do not get it they opt to go ahead with (Shoemaker, 2010) it. It is believed that suicide in some people is an excessive form of a social plan which they adopt for achieving particular social ends. In this regard, it is correct to argue that people could be committing suicide for different reasons for instance to escape from an unbearable social situation. Aggression by a person could lead them to taking their lives with the intention of others being blamed for their death. At times individuals do it so that their death could call attention to a moral or political idea. Sometimes attempted suicide is considered as a designed gamble with life as well as death. It is deviant as it is considered a coward act of evading difficult situations instead of confronting them and it has no gains.
In history, suicide was a term which brought about issues in moral understanding. This word was advanced in English around 1651, and it was derived from a Latin word suicidium meaning self-killing (Weaver & Wright, 2009).English civilization has identified it as unsuitable to oneself as well as to the society. Before the seventeenth century, it was generally inclusive of self-destruction, self-homicide, along with self-murder. Back then, Roman culture perceived it as a form of killing instead of dying. To the Romans, it had a heroic as well as an immoral connection, and it was a way of an individual evading disgrace from them. Some opted to welcome death rather than be punished or surrender. However, this was not purely their idea, but it was a direct consequence of them accepting the Greek culture.
Afterward in the medieval period, there was intense opposition of suicide such that individuals who committed suicide did not receive an appropriate Christian burial (Spencer, 2015). Suicide being perceived as moral and immoral in history is contradicting as an issue cannot be both, and it might not be clear which understanding is correct. Since back in history it was regarded as bad and good, it is not clear when later in history the meaning changed to be a sin as it is perceived today. St Augustine is known as a prominent as well as influential individual who opposed suicide during the period of early church. In the American culture, it was defined as a person taking their life. They considered it a cynical act which even facilitated them to conclude that killing oneself is opposed to the law which was seen as an overprotective measure of preventing the act. Here it was believed that individuals who attempted suicide were not mentally fit or were in need of help. Other people were expected to stop those who tried to kill themselves as it was believed that they are running away from problems and those issues could be fixed.
Currently, people are shocked and troubled by news of suicide. Typically they condemn the act, but mostly they counsel those who survive advising them and volunteering to assist if an individual problem led them to think of killing themselves. Others conduct prayers for persons who attempt to kill themselves or even after a person has succeeded in killing themselves so that they can create awareness wish intended on protecting the society against the infection of taking their lives. In some cultures, a person who attempts suicide is usually arrested and punished for instance the Kikuyu in Kenya. This often serves as a warning that people do not have control over their death, and they could still be punished despite the fact that it is their souls they would have lost. Some people who attempt but do not die are usually taken to a psychiatric hospital especially after it has been determined that they are not psychologically fit. In some societies, it is still believed that committing suicide is a punishment as a result of an individual having committed another crime like killing. It is therefore understood that the one killing themselves is being haunted by the ghost of the person they had previously killed for example by Herero in South West Africa (Colucci, 2012).
There are arguments by some sociologists which suggest that suicide should remain deviant. Durkheim argued that suicide is as a result of social factors, and it depends on how fit the person is integrated into the society. He affirmed that Catholics’ level of suicide as compared to the Protestants is low because they are better incorporated into a communal group. Jack D suggested that killing oneself should be perceived by its social meaning instead of social structures. He continued to argue that it could be understood by diaries, suicide notes, and letters along with interviews with a victim’s family incase those who die had hinted they would kill themselves and probably the reason. He also put forward the idea that the statistics used are usually unreliable as they fail to provide the full picture, and it is based on assumptions and families’ opinions. Jack D asserted that Durkheim attempting to classify suicides with their cause was erroneous and recommended that it ought to be categorized based on the meaning to the individual in question. Qualitative statistics, methods, as well as resources, should be used so as to get the correct rate of suicide according to him.
Despite the fact that suicide is considered deviant as well as an unforgivable sin, there are factors which if considered should facilitate it being reclassified as non-deviant. There are three reasons why suicide should be regarded as not deviant.
· There is genetic evidence which has linked trying to take one’s life with genes.
· Suicide in individuals’ for instance teenagers is triggered by social factors
· Physician assisted suicide is a chosen way by some individuals to end their lives in dignity rather than live and suffer.
Firstly, studies by individuals like John Hopkin have linked the act of attempting suicide with genetic proof (Andersen et al., 2014). It has been associated with a particular area of the genome on chromosome two. The study was conducted on family members who had a history of trying to kill themselves as well as bipolar disorder, and they were looking for commonalities in their genomes. Such studies could help the researchers as well study the best prevention endeavor through giving directions for study as well as medicine development. In this regard, it is logic to say that suicide ought to be reclassified because the act is usually gene driven. People with those genes are at a high risk of attempting to kill themselves, and they cannot help it. Until the time there will be a drug to deal with such a problem, suicide rates will remain high especially with individuals ‘with the chromosome linked with attempted suicide because statistically speaking those individuals are deviant.
Suicide in teenagers is usually considered tragic as they could have had a bright future with many opportunities ahead of them. A suicide attempt in adolescents is usually perceived as a strategic plan of resolving conflicts with others, parents as well as within themselves. In fact not every adolescent who tries to kill themselves want really to die. Some of the attempts have a level of severity which leads to death. Some of them are designed to draw attention for example from parents, to embarrass family members as well as to punish others for example guardians as a result of a perceived maltreatment. Adolescents go through strong feelings of confusion, stress, self-doubt, pressure to be successful, financial doubt as well as other uncertainties as they grow up. For some of them, things like divorce along with formation of new families with step-parents as well as step-siblings could be overwhelming for them and could strengthen the self-doubts they have. A solution to their stress as well as problems for some is opting to commit suicide as that is okay according top their common senses. Adolescents are usually in a delicate stage of life as they are not mature enough to make sound judgments and normally they are as well under pressure to engage in other deviant conducts like injecting drugs. Most of the adolescents who are survivors of attempted suicide are usually left with a psychological burden as well as an uncompleted business related to killing themselves as they feel they have failed when they don’t die. In regards to the triggers of suicide in teenagers, it is correct to say that suicide should be reclassified as nondeviant because it is stimulated by various factors for instance those mentioned above.
Physician-assisted death is a different type of suicide and which many individuals are against. For a patient to choose to die, they must be going through an unbearable pain which they wish to end (In Delamater et al., 2013). Sometimes they opt to do so as they feel that they have become a bother to their families as well as seeing their relations suffer because of them. They believe that they are helpless and would wish to end their suffering. Most of the patients’ who choose this kind of death are usually the ones with chronic illnesses, and they are well aware that eventually, they will die. They would rather have a decent and peaceful ending than continue lining in pain just to wait for death in suffering. Furthermore they are usually given all other options but they choose to die, in fact, they are often given some time to see if they would change their minds about being assisted to die. Those who opt to end their lives in this manner should therefore be granted their last wish as they are usually dependent instead of living miserably; after all, it is their personal lives which would be lost. It would be unfair to keep them suffering while there is a solution and a relief to everyone as they do it deliberately. Considering all this it would be wrong to classify this kind of act as deviant, and this calls for its reclassification to being non-deviant.
An attempt by a person to take their lives is an indication that something is not right currently. Regardless of their age, race along with their income status, most of the people who commit suicide usually have an emotional or a psychological disorder, and they could be having untreated, undertreated or undiagnosed depression (Shoemaker, 2010). There is a high risk of people with such conditions wanting to take their lives, for instance, owing to hopelessness in future; being sick as well as having has tried suicide before. A majority of people with bipolar disorder take their lives. Situations like desperation, being discharged from hospital and the ones with a past of suicide in their families are at a high risk of doing that. Some people who are as well diagnosed with schizophrenia choose to end their lives. On top of depression, those with other types of psychological illnesses are at a high risk for instance anxiety disorder along with drug abuse though individuals with depression are at a larger risk. People with personality disorder are three times probable to attempt suicide as compared with others and most of them usually have a depressive disorder. People with mental illnesses are likely to have suicidal thoughts and owing to their condition they do not see any harm in it, in fact, they feel they are ending their suffering. Antidepressants medicines alone have not proofed to decrease the risk of killing oneself, physicians addressing suicidality in people with mental conditions could save lives. In this regard, it is evident that suicide should now be categorized now as nondeviant because those who commit suicide are triggered by their mental conditions (In Talbott, 2012
Reclassifying suicide as nondeviant would mean that customary standards could weaken or break down. This is because it would appear that it is justified for any individual to do so whenever they cannot cope with life any longer. Leaving suicide notes along with letters would therefore be considered normal and would imply that the individual has done an act which is nondeviant, and they are just letting their families know why. People taking their lives being regarded as nondeviant would mean that laws which punish those who attempt to do that are illegal and therefore should be abolished. This would consequently lead to an increase in suicides as people would perceive it as an accepted conduct. It would be against the doctrines of the church to view suicide as accepted and it would as well be against the will of the God. However, the unanticipated results of such a categorization would be that this might not have any effect on some people. They would still do it whether it is deviant or nondeviant hence reclassification might not have an impact on such people. Such a reclassification would be disputable to the society as it would be a violation of the standards of the community. The society by reclassifying suicide would be indirectly lowering their moral standards, and this would come to catch up with them later when they would be trying to categorize it once again.

In Gitterman, A. (2014). Handbook of social work practice with vulnerable and resilient populations.
Andersen, M. L., Taylor, H. F., & Logio, K. A. (2014). Sociology: The essentials.
Spencer, J. W. (2015). Contexts of deviance: Statuses, institutions, and interactions.
In DeLamater, J. D., & In Ward, A. (2013). Handbook of social psychology.
Shoemaker, D. J. (2010). Theories of delinquency: An examination of explanations of delinquent behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Weaver, J. C., & Wright, D. (2009). Histories of suicide: International perspectives on self-destruction in the modern world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Colucci, E. (2012). Suicide and culture: Understanding the context. Gottingen: Hogrefe & Huber.

In Talbott, J. A. (2012). The year book of psychiatry and applied mental health, 2012.

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