Suicide As a Multidimensional Phenomena

WedforumOne of the social phenomena feasible to be examined comprehensively is the issue of suicide. The frequency of suicides is relatively high and closely related to various aspects of human life. Addressing this issue, therefore, must be begun with a thorough study involving interdisciplinary methodology as delivered by Dicky Sofjan, Ph.D in his presentation at CRCS-ICRS Wednesday Forum on Wednesday, 27 October 2010.

Presenting “Suicide and Social Disintegration: Where’s the (Dis)-Connection?”, Dicky Sofjan, a Regional Project Manager in the Asian Public Intellectuals (API) institution, began his presentation with a description of the suicide intensity around the world. The varied motives and types of suicide were also presented. In particular, he mentioned the quite high suicide rate in the area of Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta Special Province.

In regard to the theme of social integration, Sofjan tried to decipher the phenomenon of suicide by using the theories of Émile Durkheim’s, Johnson, B.D and Ted Robert Gurr. Alienation, aggression, frustration, and disintegration are the key issues around the phenomenon of suicide. Interesting facts from the Gurr’s theory presented by Sofjan is if the level of social integration is higher, the suicide rate would be higher as well. The suicide rate would actually reach its lowest point when the level of social integration is in balance.

About Islam, Sofjan stated that suicide among the adherents of this religion is still an issue seen in different way. Based on surveys of the world suicide rate, it is difficult to obtain exact rate in Muslim countries, because suicide cannot be widely examined and exposed. Ambiguity still colors the Muslim attitudes toward suicide, therefore, in dealing with this issue, it still requires in-depth research.

The presentation started at 1300 at Room 306 on the third floor of GMU Graduate School building for forty five minutes, and was then continued with discussion. Some participants discussed the correlation of people’s nature of self-submission in the Javanese tradition with the high rates of suicide in Gunungkidul. Meanwhile, other participants and the speaker were involved in a further discussion, especially on the issues of methodology.

The death of the phenomenal figure Mbah Maridjan, the keeper of Merapi Volcano, was slightly discussed as he died because of the Merapi’s eruption one day before. They concerned on Mbah Maridjan’s decision to stay in his house although the prediction of eruption as well as the warnings had been repeatedly announced by the authorities. To Sofjan, Mbah Maridjan’s death could be categorized as altruistic suicide, not because of the social alienation, but precisely due to the high level of social integration.

To conclude the discussion, Sofjan, who serves as a consultant in UNDP and also the founder and director of the Frontier INA institution, emphasized that the issue of suicide should be addressed wisely. Approaches should be made from various dimensions, not only psychological approach, but also social dimension and even biological approach. An attempt to suppress the suicide rate by using theological approach has not yet accomplished significant impacts. Hence, all elements of society should proactively take part in solving this problem. [MoU]

This post is also available in: Indonesian

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