As a photojournalist, I've found it helpful to delve into the world of sociology, and that helps me better understand the world and the cultures I am trying to document.

Suicide is something that haunts the world as a whole, and even though it seems like each culture has its own unique issues with suicide, there are really only four fundamental reasons for it. 

It is important to remember that the loved ones of the person who commits suicide are not to blame for it. The person was not acting selfishly either, but they just had run out of options to pursue. The culprit for suicides in societies is one simple oppressor: the society itself. Suicide happens when a society is sick, and not when an individual is sick (most times.)*

Fatalistic Suicide
This type of suicide is what happens when one feels there is no way out of an oppressive social reality.

The US Military has seen an increase in suicide rates, and part of that can be attributed to this form. Some of the junior members can feel so oppressed by the senior members, that they cannot see a way to escape it.

There have been instances of Middle Eastern women setting themselves on fire, and that falls into this fatalistic category. They didn't think there was a way to escape a perceived oppression, and the only way they could find to get out was to die.

Sadly, a lot of young suicides fall into this category. If a teen feels like there is no way to escape a situation where their peers at school are bullying them, this can be the outcome. This is why cyberbullying is such a big deal in places where teens have an internet presence.

Anomic Suicide
This happens when a person feels so out of touch with the rules of the society that they cannot seem to succeed.

During times of economic turbulence, the West is seeing this because the rules about money are changing. People feel out of touch with the society around them, and that is not good. Biologically, humans are pack animals, which led us to create a society after years of evolution.

Society is a human invention, and is therefore imperfect. When one feels removed from their group, he feels alone. That can lead him to feel like he doesn't matter. That leads to him wondering if anyone would notice if he died.

Sadly, this is something I see happening on global social networks, and that concerns me. I am involved with Facebook, Flickr, Google+, 500px, and Twitter. Everyone wants to feel like they are a part of that society, and when they are shunned or ignored, it is very dangerous because it separates the person from what it means to be human.

Altruistic Suicide
This is otherwise known as martyrdom. A martyr sacrifices himself for other people, and it happens in all cultures of the world.

A soldier might jump on a grenade to save his friends. Someone might suicide bomb a building because he believes it is what he needs to do for his God or for his family.

Unfortunately, it is relatively easy to convince someone that they should sacrifice himself for others. Soldiers and suicide bombers are both taught that it is an honor to die that way. Soldiers are honored with a special ceremony, and suicide bombers are honored with virgins in heaven. Either way, it is a manipulation by the powerful imposed upon the less-powerful. It is a society issue.

Egoistic Suicide
This happens when someone is elevated to a point where they feel like they are above society. This explains why celebrities have problems with drugs, and ultimately why certain celebrities have found it necessary to commit suicide.

Being elevated above society gives similar affects as Anomic Suicide in that one loses touch with his humanity and feels separated from the group.

The difference is that in this case, they are stuck in a mallody being never satisfied. Individual goals never get met, and that prompts the hopeless feeling that they will never get met.


*Of course, suicide can also be caused solely by an individual illness like bipolar disorder or depression. Often times that disorder overlaps into one of the four categories, but not always.