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Suicide Rates

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Autor:  horse_44  15 November 2009
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Timon Fennema
SSC 111
British English, APA
28 September 2006
873 words

Essay 2: SSC 111 Introduction to Sociology

In this essay I want to compare the suicide rates in the Netherlands with the suicide rates in Japan. I will take a look at the relative numbers of suicide in both countries and compare these numbers. I want to find a reason for the possible difference or similarity. I also want to take a look at the increase/decrease in percentage of suicide cases in time for both countries. For this rise/fall in percentage of suicide cases in time, I want to find a possible explanation.
I have chosen for these two countries for my survey for two reasons. I chose the Netherlands because I am Dutch and I wanted to gain more knowledge about Dutch suicide rates. For the comparison I chose Japan, because I have read in an article that suicide occurs ‘often’ in Japan1. I wanted to compare Japan for this reason with the Netherlands, because I already could know that there was a good chance that there would be difference in suicide rates between the two countries. I did not know in what intensity this difference existed and if there were comparisons.

In the Netherlands the average suicide rates has risen from 5.5 per 100,000 people in 1950 to 9.2 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2003. This is an extraordinary increase with about 67 percent. For men the suicide rates has risen from 7.4 per 100,000 (1950) to 12.7 per 100,000 in 2003. The increase for men committing suicide is around 71.6 percent. For women the suicide rates has increased with roughly 59.5 percent in 53 years, from 1950 till 2003. In 1953 only 3.7 women per 100,000 committed suicide, while on the other hand in 2003 5.9 women per 100,000 committed suicide2.
For the Netherlands you can see that there is a clear increase in suicide rates. The increase in people who commit suicide has risen by 67 percent in 53 years.
In Japan the suicide rates has risen from 19.6 per 100,000 in 1950 to 23.8 per 100,000 in 2002. There is a relative increase of roughly 21.4 percent. Suicide cases where a man committed suicide has increased from 24 per 100,000 in 1950 to 35.2 per 100,000. This is an increase of 46.67 percent. While in 1950 15.3 women per 100,000 committed suicide, 12.8 women per 100,000 committed suicide in 2002. This is a decrease of roughly 16.34 percent3.
For Japan you can see that there is, just like in the Netherlands, an increase in suicide rates. However this increase in people who commit suicide is only caused by men. While there are more men committing suicide in 2002 then in 1950, fewer women commit suicide in 2002 then in 1950. The women are declining the average increase in suicide rates from 1950-2002.

If you compare the numbers of people who commit suicide in the Netherlands and people who do the same in Japan, you can see that there are more people in Japan who commit suicide. This is as well for men who commit suicide as well for women who commit suicide. To find an explanation for the difference in suicide cases between the countries, you can go back in historical culture.
In medieval Japan, in the age of samurai (Japanese ‘knights’), was it unthinkable to accept a defeat in a war or battle. There would be life lasting shame for the defeated samurai. Therefore it was preferred to commit suicide, and this was seen as an honourable death after a defeat in order to prevent a life full with shame4. Nowadays this ‘seppeku’ still remains in Japanese culture. Japanese people show more notion when somebody commit suicide because of ‘failure’ in his or her life. In the Netherlands, committing suicide is seen as sin. This is because Christianity sees suicide as a sin. In the Netherlands there was big majority of Christians during the Middle Ages. Committing suicide is since that period seen as something wrong in the Netherlands.
The difference in culture can therefore explain the higher number of suicides in Japan compared to the numbers in the Netherlands.

If you compare the increase in suicide cases in the Netherlands from 1950 till 2003 with the increase in suicide cases in Japan from 1950 till 2002, you can see that people in the Netherlands commit suicide nowadays relatively more then in Japan. While in the Netherlands the increase in 67 percent, is the increase in Japan 21.4 percent. The question is why the increase in the Netherlands is so much higher then the increase in Japan concerning suicides.
An explanation could be the westernisation of Japan. Suicide is slightly seen as something that is wrong. Of course the Japanese culture about suicide still exists, but there is now also a western view of point added towards suicide. This western point, that is negative about suicide, could cause a ‘decline’ in suicide cases compared to the Netherlands.
In the Netherlands nowadays there is more and more individualisation. According to Durkheim individualisation can lead to suicide. People are more individual and do not have a group of people as ‘backup’, where they can go when problems occur. Because of the growth of individualisation since 1950 in the Netherlands the extreme rise of suicides can be explained.

5. Le Suicide: Йtude de sociologie ; Йmile Durkheim


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