Suicide is catching…

Posted by on Jan 28, 2008 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments


If you’ve never read this book, you MUST. Not just because it remains topical – a discussion of the latest suicide-on-the-internet-chatrooms-made-me-do-it scandal is here.

No, Suicide is a must read because it represents one of the first attempts to write a serious study of a widely known, serious and shocking social phenomenon was laid out on an empirical basis. A statistical scalpel is taken to published data as the basis for a discussion around a heated subject. And the prose is a delight still.

In other words, the great Durkheim develops his argument by looking at the data and testing various conflicting hypotheses against it, not by speculating about “what I feel to be right” “what I prefer to be the case”, “how it seems to me”, “what we’ve always supposed”, “what I’m too lazy to think about…” etc etc ETC!

Before it we knew that social factors had a role to play (Goethe’s yellow-weskit’d Young Werther caused a mild epidemic of upper class suicide about a century previously) but with his eagle eye, Durkheim makes a strong evidenced-based case for quite how much…

Here’s an idea: what if we tried the data thing with all our discussions about how things work in marketing, new and old???? How would that be? Do you think that might help?

Just asking…


  1. Britt Raybould
    January 28, 2008

    I’ve been quietly following your blog for months, and this post is a perfect example of why I love your ideas and your words. I particularly love the line, “what I’m too lazy to think about.”
    My perception on the data vs. feeling movement is that people are both lazy and partially afraid to either be proven wrong or right. Once something moves beyond a feeling, then one may be called upon to act on it. What a scary thought…informed action.

  2. mark Earls
    January 29, 2008

    Thanks, Britt. Interested to see what you make of this morning’s post

  3. chris reed
    January 29, 2008

    That takes me back. “Anomie, anomie, they’ve all got it in for me.”
    Yes, a cracking read which reminds me very much of 1st year sociology – not something I ever thought I’d study, but something which I now realise taught me so much.

  4. Mike Tyldesley
    January 29, 2008

    Durkheim, eh? Professor Maffesoli, who holds Durkheim’s chair at the Sorbonne, would be pleased, I think.

  5. Jay, writer
    February 3, 2008

    While I’m not exactly sure how to go about applying that concept in marketing, your description of the book gave me chills. Statistical scalpel? It’s interesting to see the patterns surrounding suicide cases and the factors that influence such a notion. Suicide used to be a taboo subject but the more we ignore it, the more frequently it will manifest.