Sociological Imagination: Personal Troubles And Social Issues

Table of Contents

Here is an introduction

What is Sociological Vision?

Problems with your personal life and social issues

South Africa’s University Students Face Suicide

Suicide as an Societal Problem

Black Students at Universities Suicide is a Social Cause

In conclusion


An introduction

I will now examine C Wright Mills’ sociological imagination. Then, I will make a distinction between personal problems or social issues. I will then examine suicide as an issue facing South African university students, particularly black South African males. I will explore the causes of the problem and the possible solutions. The sociological imagination will be discussed in this instance. What is Sociological imagination? It was created by C Wright Mills. C Wright Mills (1959.3) says that it is impossible to understand both the individual’s life and the history of the society without looking at both (Stewart-Zaaiman 2018:xxvi). It allows us to examine an individual’s relationship with the society and its impact on them. Objectively assessing personal problems and the impact of social issues on an individual is the goal. It is possible to objectively assess the personal troubles of an individual and the social issues experienced by the community. There’s a distinction between problems that affect one person and those that affect all members of a group. (Stewart und Zaaiman 2018, page xxxvi). These problems affect the person and are called personal problems. A learning disability is a condition that makes it more difficult for an individual to understand certain concepts. The social structure has an impact on all people. These can include water shortages or load-shedding. Imagine a suicide in the community. It would be devastating for the family and their close friends. But if suicides become a common problem, it affects the entire community. It is important to consider the context of an individual’s life, as well as their influences on their thinking and behavior. Because they are also affected by the historical and cultural contexts of their society, it is essential to examine these factors with complete objectivity.

South Africa University Students Suicide: A Problem Yan (2012):14 states that suicides in South African universities are largely due to stressors like lack of support, alcohol abuse, mental illness, and social factors like sexuality and gender. The University population is more likely to die from suicide because of work overload, financial difficulties, or stress (Yan 2012 :14). Mail& Guardian 1999 says that David Malebana, a student of Tompi Seleka Agricultural College Northern Province, took three lectures before committing his suicide. The intense pressure he felt academically was evident in his story.

Suicide as an Societal ProblemAccording South African Depression and Anxiety Group 2016, suicide is second to accidents among university students. “The rising number of suicides among South African university student is a concern. Since 1950, white male suicide rates (15-24 years old) have tripled while white female suicide rates (15-24 years old) have more than doubled. The suicide rate of black males has increased by 2/3 in the past 15 years. ‘(SADAG 2016) Furthermore, Bantjies et al. Bantjies et al. (2016) suggest that up to 20% of university students experience suicidal thoughts. Statistics show that suicide is a problem that is affected by larger societal structures. This isn’t just a matter where there are a few suicides, but a lot of people. This suggests that suicide is an issue that is part of society. Suicide can be attributed to society and its structure.

Black University Students Suicide is a Social Cause Peltzer and colleagues 2000 found that black South Africans have higher expectations of themselves, such as financial hardships, family problems, or high personal goals. They move to university in search of a better life. They are aware that they need academic excellence to succeed in university and be able support their families. Bursaries recipients may sometimes need to borrow money from their families to pay for home repairs. The academic pressure and the responsibility are too much. It becomes overwhelming. Suicide seems an easy option. Black people don’t talk about their feelings, and are considered weak for expressing them. For black men, it is common to be told to suppress emotions and to show strength. Suicide can be seen as an attention-seeking mechanism. Once it succeeds, it’s not recommended to take it lightly. Peltzer, Cluver et al.(2000) investigated how ethnic differences influence suicide rates among students at universities. “Suicide is stigmatized across many South African ethnicities, particularly Black South Africans.” (Young 2009; Cluver and al. 2015) believes that students at black universities are more likely to commit suicide than students of white universities.

Understanding black culture and the ways in which black communities function will help you understand why black men are subject to these pressures. The culture of black men is set from the moment they are born. Young black boys are taught that crying is a sign of weakness and that he should show his strength. As he gets older, his job becomes to look after his family. He carries so much with him to university. He is unwilling to admit that he feels weak and will not seek out help. Anger is the only acceptable expression.

First, we must change our mindset. Suicide does not indicate a need for attention. It is important to talk about the issue and express your feelings. People with mental disorders or racial differences should not be treated differently by therapy.

Conclusion. I believe that the sociological imagination can be very useful when dealing with issues that affect individuals or larger societies. It allows us to examine the causes of suicide in black university students and not place blame on them. It is likely that the social structure in black society has contributed to these suicides. Instead of seeing troubled young black men who cannot control their emotions, we now see young black men who have been subject to social pressures which have caused them to act in certain ways.


Bantjies J. R. Kagee A. McGowan T. Steel H. 2016. “Symptoms and predictors of suicidal thoughts among university students in South Africa: Depression, posttraumatic stress, and anxiety.” A study published in the Journal of American College Health focused on the frequency of cigarette smoking by college students. The research found that 64% of students reported smoking cigarettes at least once in their lifetime. Results also showed that the prevalence of smoking had decreased from 66% to 64% in the past six years.

Cluver?L?Orkin?M? Boyes??M.E. & Sherr??L. 2015. “Children and adolescents commit suicide by trying to kill themselves, suicidal behaviors, and negative childhood experiences in South Africa: An exploratory study.” A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health looked at the effects of physical activity on adolescents. The results indicated that physical activity was associated with improved physical and mental wellbeing in the study’s participants. Furthermore, the study found that regular physical activity was linked with increased self-esteem and body image satisfaction. The results support the notion that physical activity plays an important role in the health of adolescents.

The Mail & Guardian is a news outlet. 1999. ‘Law Society will transform’. Accessed 2 March 2020, .

Mills, C, W. 1959. The Sociological Imagination, published by Oxford University Press, was released in London.

Peltzer, K. Cherian,V.I and Cherian,L. 2000. Cross-cultural attitudes towards suicide in secondary school pupils in South Africa. The East African Journal recently published a study that examined the impact of varying educational levels on employment opportunities in East Africa. They discovered that those with higher levels of education had greater chances of obtaining gainful employment than those with lower levels of education. The study concluded that investing in education is essential for improving economic prospects in the region.

South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) 2016.’ Teen Suicide, Accessed 2 March 2020, .

Stewart, P. 2018. Sociological theory’, Sociology: An Introduction to South Africa, edited by Johan Zaaiman & Paul Stewart, Cape Town: Juta.

World Health Organisation, 2014 Preventing Suicide: “A Global Imperative” Accessed 2 March 2020, .

Young, C. 2009. “The CORE-OM intake norms for students attending a South African university counseling service: A comparison of UK counselling data” In the British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, a study was conducted that explored the connection between resilience and perceived self-efficacy among adolescents. Results indicated that resilient adolescents tend to possess greater confidence in their own abilities than those who are less resilient. The study concluded that resilience is connected to an individual’s perception of their own competence.

Yan (2013) noted that… “The lived experiences of Black South African University Students who had suicidal thoughts: a descriptive Phenomenological Study

Master’s dissertation. Johannesburg: University of Johannesburg Available from: (Accessed: 22 August 2017)


  • jacobcunningham

    Jacob Cunningham is a 26-year-old education blogger and teacher who resides in the Pacific Northwest. Jacob's teaching and writing focus on the use of technology in the classroom, and he is a frequent presenter at education conferences around the country. Jacob's work has been featured on sites such as The Huffington Post, Edutopia, and TechCrunch.



Jacob Cunningham is a 26-year-old education blogger and teacher who resides in the Pacific Northwest. Jacob's teaching and writing focus on the use of technology in the classroom, and he is a frequent presenter at education conferences around the country. Jacob's work has been featured on sites such as The Huffington Post, Edutopia, and TechCrunch.