Emile Durkheim’s classical work Le Suicide (1897) laid the theoretical and methodological foundation of the ‘sociology of suicide’. It still stands as a common source of reference both for sociology and beyond. Nonetheless, Durkheim’s positivist innovation has received criticisms in sociology on theoretical and methodological grounds. In particular, Jack Douglas in Social Meaning of Suicide (1967) emphasises that sociological analysis must uncover and interpret the range of motives and meanings associated with each act of suicide.
Suicide is a serious but under-researched public health problem in Bangladesh. More upsettingly, sociological work (Durkheimeian and post-Durkheimian) on suicide is almost absent in Bangladesh. Against this backdrop, I have taken up sociologist Raewyn Connell’s seminal concept of hegemonic masculinity to explore the cultural and social meanings of male suicide in Bangladesh. I have interviewed 45 ‘significant others’ of 15 men who died by suicide from the rural settings of Jhenaidah district (one of most suicide-prone areas), Bangladesh. Findings of the research suggest that men who died by suicide failed to make a balance between the culturally and sonically imbued hegemonic masculine ideals and the harsh realities of life. In this way, society/culture forces men to escape from life.
In radical contrast to the conventional/dominant view of suicide as linked to purely psychological and individualistic problems, works must be undertaken under the framework of sociology of suicide. In that case, Bangladesh can be considered as a test case for re-rejuvenating the methodological and epistemological aspects of sociology of suicide.
Anisur Rahman Khan is an Associate Professor of Sociology at East West University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. His research interests concentrate on men and masculinity, sociology of suicide and social policy analysis. He is particularly interested in developing a theoretical and methodological base on the sociology of suicide in Bangladesh. In the same vein, he is currently working on exploring the social fact of suicide embedded in the cultural and social meanings and practices of men and masculinity.
Khan, A. R., Ratele, K., Helman, R., Dlamini, S., & Makama, R. (2020). Masculinity and Suicide in Bangladesh. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying. https://doi.org/10.1177/0030222820966239
Rahman Khan, A., Ratele, K., & Dery, I. (2020). (Re)Animating Sociology of Suicide in Bangladesh. Italian Sociological Review, 10(1), 55. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.13136/isr.v10i1.317