Suicide is often considered as a mental health issue in Pakistan. Too often, suicide is addressed from the medical and psychiatrist paradigms and the sociological discourse about suicide is missing from the existing debates and discourses.

Both sociologists and anthropologists put emphasis on ‘social’ over ‘individual’ or psychological perspectives while addressing different social issues and problems of society.

However, to explain suicide and the differences in suicide rates of different groups, Emile Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of sociology, in his groundbreaking book ‘Le suicide’ - published in 1897 which is relevant even today - took a very different position from psychologists and biologists.

Suicide apparently, which seems an individualistic, private and personal act, has been aptly explained by Emile Durkheim by the science of Sociology.

Durkheim was less interested in why specific individuals committed suicide that was to be left to psychologists (though psychology and biological factors are important). He was more interested in the social facts that could explain the differences in suicide rates in different groups that why one group has a higher suicide rate than the other group.

Social facts ‘are social structures and cultural norms that are external to, and the coercive of, actors.’ Durkheim was more interested in the extraneous factors and underlying social facts, collective sentiments and social currents that affect individual’s decision about suicide.

However, to explain this social and empirical phenomenon, Emile Durkheim on the basis of his two underlying social facts: integration and regulation in society, and he has discussed four types of suicides i.e. Egoistic, Altruistic, Anomic and Fatalistic Suicide.

Egoistic suicides are likely to be higher in societies or groups where individuals are not well integrated into the larger social structure or unit. An integrated society gives us common values, morality and sense of purpose, which are the best parts of individuals and through this moral/societal support we are able to cope with the daily small indignities and disappointments.

The lack of this integration and connection individuals are liable to commit suicide at a smallest frustration. Durkheim has emphasized the role of religion in protection against suicide in religious groups; he says, “Religion protects man against the desire of self-destruction”. However, it is not true for all religions and may not provide the same degree of protection.

Contrary to the egoistic suicide, the second type of suicide altruistic suicide occurs when social integration is very strong. The individual is forced into committing suicide for the good of community or groups. These types of suicides are likely to happen in military, terrorist activities and those who seek to be martyrs.

Individuals who commit altruistic suicide consider it their moral duty to do so. In some cases, altruistic suicide occurs when the integration is so strong that one feels that he or she has disgraced the entire group or community.

Egoistic suicide higher rates stem from depression, incurable frustration, whereas altruistic suicide relies on the belief in beautiful afterlife and optimism.

The third form is anomic suicide, which is likely to happen when the regulatory power of society is disrupted. Given such disruption and disorganization in society leave individuals dissatisfied and there is little control over their desires and passions, which runs freely in an insatiable race for gratification.

Anomic suicide rates are likely to rise contingent upon the nature of disruption either positive (modernization, industrialization) or negative (economic stagnation, recessions). The fourth and final form is fatalistic suicide which is on contrary linked to the excessive and oppressive regulation in a society.

Fatalistic suicide is likely to occur when people with future prospects are mercilessly blocked and their passions are violently clogged by oppressive discipline. It is linked to the exploitative system of hopelessness and oppressive regulation, the best example of this type of suicide is when a slave take his own life because of the oppressive regulation regarded every action.

Given the detailed discussion of Emile Durkheim suicide theory and types, we can easily recognize all the four different types of suicide in Pakistani Society. If we analyze the data from various sources such as available police reports and research studies, in the urban centers as well as rural areas of Pakistan we can easily decipher that egoistic suicides have occurred in Pakistan.

The growing fanaticism and terrorism in Pakistan as well as the strong moral and familial integrated systems and bindings have resulted in altruistic suicides. Pakistani society and culture have also witnessed social and cultural interventions and disruptions with the rise of industrialization, urbanization, materialism, technology and modernization which have resulted in higher rates of anomic suicides.

Finally, the idea of the strong excessive regulations and strict disciplines had led many students across the country to commit fatalistic suicides. There are other social, psychological, gender and cultural, economic and political factors which come into play while pushing the individuals into committing suicides.

To sum up, Durkheim concluded that suicide is often seen as an individual problem; therefore attempts to prevent suicides have failed. Durkheim believed that the measures that are undertaken to prevent suicide by directly convincing individuals to not commit suicides seem futile because the real causes are in the society not in individual.

As a matter of fact, in order to prevent suicides we will have to balance the underlying social forces and social facts i.e. integration and regulation which are found in society not in individuals.