Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist born on April 15, 1858 in Lorraine, France. As a child, he grew up in a traditional Jewish household, but did not lead a spiritual lifestyle. He grew interested in how mental processes, rather than divine forces, shape the world around us and urge people to act in certain ways. After graduating from university, he taught sociology classes and authored his first book in 1892 entitled Montesquieu's Contributions to the Formation of Social Science.
In 1897, Durkheim released another sociology-based novel, Suicide, which details the social repercussions that result from taking one’s own life. He claims that there are four different classifications of suicide: egoistic, altruistic, anomic and fatalistic. Egoistic suicide entails a person being ostracized by the rest of society. Altruistic suicide occurs when a death would be seemingly beneficial for a group of people, such as serving in military combat or participating in human sacrifice. Anomic suicide refers to a person’s lack of moral direction and sense of purpose. Lastly, fatalistic suicide occurs when an individual feels that death would be the preferable option to living in a tyrannical society.
After the publication of Suicide, Emile Durkheim wrote many more psychology-based works, such as The Prohibition of Incest and its Origins (1897), Primitive Classification (1903), The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912), and Germany Above All (1915). He ultimately died of a stroke on November 15, 1918 at only 59 years old, cutting short his illustrious career in sociology.