Read through the brief descriptions of cases of suicide below:

  1. Score each of the cases on a scale from 1 (least) to 5 (most), in terms of how much sympathy you feel for the person. Is there a consensus among members of the class?
  2. Use the different types or meanings of suicide identified by Durkheim, Douglas and Taylor to classify these five cases.
  3. Do any of the cases fit more than one type? (e.g. Durkheim’s fatalism and Taylor’s idea of certainty).
  4. What conclusions do you draw about the usefulness of the different typologies?

Descriptions of suicide cases:

  1. James had high aspirations for his company but went bankrupt during the recession. In despair he drowned himself by jumping overboard from his yacht.
  2. Jennifer was devoted to Nigel, her boyfriend since she was 14. He jilted her at the altar and she took an overdose three days later, leaving a note saying she still loved him and hoped they could be together again.
  3. Brian was a loner who was sure he had no place in the world and nobody respected him. He walked into an aerobics class with a machine gun and killed ten people, before shooting himself.
  4. Jeremy was an officer in the SAS who volunteered to go on a very dangerous mission, from which he knew he would most likely not return.
  5. Brenda was unemployed for three years after twenty years of hard work. She had used up all his savings and had to sell her house. She made 489 unsuccessful job applications. She took her own life in an isolated spot and her body was only found two weeks later.