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Encyclopedia > History of suicide
History of suicide
List of suicides
Views on suicide
Medical | Cultural
Legal | Philosophical
Religious | Right to die
Suicide crisis
Intervention | Prevention
Crisis hotline | Suicide watch
Types of suicide
Suicide by method | Copycat suicide
Cult suicide | Euthanasia
Forced suicide | Internet suicide
Mass suicide | Murder-suicide
Ritual suicide | Suicide attack
Suicide pact | Teenage suicide
Suicide by cop
Related phenomena
Parasuicide | Self-harm
Suicidal ideation | Suicide note
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Suicide has been committed by people from all walks of life since the beginning of known history. Among the famous who have taken their own lives are Socrates, Boudicca, Brutus, Mark Antony, Cleopatra VII of Egypt, Judas Iscariot, Hannibal, Nero, Virginia Woolf, Sadeq Hedayat, Sigmund Freud, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, Ernest Hemingway, Alan Turing, Sylvia Plath, Marina Tsvetaeva, Yukio Mishima, Hunter S. Thompson, Ludwig Boltzmann, and Vincent van Gogh. It has been suggested that Suicide method be merged into this article or section. ... // The following are lists of notable people who have definitely died intentionally by their own hand, regardless of the circumstances. ... Modern medical views on suicide consider suicide to be a mental health issue. ... Various human cultures may have views on suicide not directly or solely linked to religious views of suicide. ... This page concerns suicide. ... In ethics and other branches of philosophy suicide poses a difficult question, answered differently by philosophers from different times and traditions. ... There are a variety of religious views of suicide. ... For the 1987 film, see Right to Die (film) The term right to die refers to various issues around the death of an individual when that person could continue to live with the aid of life support, or in a diminished or enfeebled capacity. ... A suicide crisis, suicidal crisis, or potential suicide, is a situation in which a person is attempting to kill himself or is seriously contemplating or planning to do so. ... Modern medical views on suicide consider suicide to be a mental health issue rather than allowing that individuals can make a sane or reasoned choice to take their own life. ... Various suicide prevention strategies have been used: Promoting mental resilience through optimism and connectedness. ... As a suicide prevention initiative, this sign on the Golden Gate Bridge promotes a special telephone that connects to a crisis hotline. ... Suicide watch is an intensive monitoring process used to ensure that an individual does not commit suicide. ... Suicide methods are the different methods people have chosen to commit suicide. ... A copycat suicide is defined as a duplication or copycat of another suicide that the person attempting suicide knows about either from local knowledge or due to accounts or depictions of the original suicide on television and in other media. ... Cult suicide is that phenomenon by which some religious groups, in this context often referred to as cults, have led to their membership committing suicide. ... Euthanasia (from Greek: ευθανασία -ευ, eu, good, θάνατος, thanatos, death) is the practice of terminating the life of a person or animal in a presumably painless or minimally painful way, usually by lethal injection. ... Forced suicide is a method of execution where the victim is given the choice of committing suicide or facing an alternative they perceive as worse, such as suffering torture; having friends or family members imprisoned, tortured or killed; or losing honor, position or means. ... An Internet suicide is a suicide pact made between individuals who meet on the Internet. ... Mass suicide occurs when a number of people kill themselves together with one another or for the same reason and is usually connected to a real or perceived persecution. ... A murder suicide is an act in which an individual kills one or more other persons immediately before, or while killing himself. ... Ritual suicide is the act of suicide motivated by a religious, spiritual, or traditional ritual. ... A suicide attack is an attack in which the attacker (attacker being either an individual or a group) intends to kill others and intends to die in the process of doing so (see suicide). ... A suicide pact describes the suicides of two or more individuals in an agreed-upon plan. ... Teenage suicide is the self-killing of a teenager. ... Suicide-by-cop is a suicide method in which someone deliberately acts in a threatening way towards a law enforcement officer, with the main goal of provoking a lethal response (e. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Self-harm (SH) is deliberate injury to ones own body. ... Suicidal ideation is common medical term for the mere thoughts about and of plans of committing suicide, not the actual following through or act itself. ... Kurt Cobains alleged suicide note. ... This is a list of famous people who are known to have committed suicide. ... Socrates (Greek: , invariably anglicized as , Sǒcratēs; circa 470–399 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher who is widely credited for laying the foundation for Western philosophy. ... Boudicca (BOW-dicca [as in bow-and-arrow], mispronnounced by many as [bū-dĭkə]; her name means Victorous [Modern Gaelic Buaidheach]) (also written Boudica, Boadicea, Buduica, Bonduca) (d. ... Brutus is a Roman cognomen used by several politicians of the Junii family, especially in the Roman Republic. ... Bust of Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (Latin: M·ANTONIVS·M·F·M·N[1]) ( January 14 83 BC – August 1, 30 BC), known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. ... Cleopatra was a co-ruler of Egypt with her father (Ptolemy XII Auletes), her brothers/husbands Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, consummated a liaison with Gaius Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne, and, after Caesars assassination, aligned with Mark Antony, with whom she produced twins. ... For the American black metal band, see Judas Iscariot (band). ... Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar Barca, (247 BC – ca. ... Nero[1] Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (December 15, AD 37 – June 9, AD 68)[2], born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, also called Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, was the fifth and last Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. ... Virginia Woolf (née Stephen) (January 25, 1882 – March 28, 1941) was an English novelist and essay writer who is regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century. ... Sadegh (or Sadeq) Hedayat (in Persian: صادق هدایت), is Irans foremost modern writer of prose fiction and short stories. ... Sigmund Freud (born Sigismund Freud) May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939; (IPA: ) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who co-founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. ... Hitler redirects here. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. ... Alan Mathison Turing, OBE (June 23, 1912 – June 7, 1954), was an English mathematician, logician, and cryptographer. ... Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963) was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer. ... Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva (Russian: ) (October 9, 1892 – August 31, 1941) was a Russian poet and writer. ... Yukio Mishima Yukio Mishima ) was the public name of Kimitake Hiraoka , January 14, 1925—November 25, 1970), a Japanese author and playwright, famous for both his highly notable nihilistic post-war writings and the circumstances of his ritual suicide by seppuku. ... Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005) was an American journalist and author. ... Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann (Vienna, Austrian Empire, February 20, 1844 – Duino near Trieste, September 5, 1906) was an Austrian physicist famous for his founding contributions in the fields of statistical mechanics and statistical thermodynamics. ... Vincent Willem van Gogh (Dutch pronunciation: ) (March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890 ) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist artist. ...



In ancient times, suicide sometimes followed defeat in battle, to avoid capture and possible subsequent torture, mutilation, or enslavement by the enemy. The Caesarean assassins Brutus and Cassius, for example, killed themselves after their defeat at the battle of Philippi. Insurgent Jews died in a mass suicide at Masada in 74 CE rather than face enslavement by the Romans. The times before writing belong either to protohistory or to prehistory. ... Torture is defined by the United Nations Convention Against Torture as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he... Slave redirects here. ... Gaius Julius Caesar [1] (Latin pronunciation ; English pronunciation ; July 12 or July 13, 100 BC or 102 BC – March 15, 44 BC), was a Roman military and political leader and one of the most influential men in classical antiquity. ... Jack Ruby murdered the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, in a very public manner. ... Art work over an ancient marble bust of Marcus Brutus Marcus Junius Brutus (85 BC – 42 BC), or Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, was a Roman senator of the late Roman Republic. ... Caius Cassius Longinus featured on a denarius (42 BC). ... Map of Greece showing Philippi Philippi (in Ancient Greek / Philippoi) was a city in eastern Macedonia, founded by Philip II in 356 BC and abandoned in the 14th century after the Ottoman conquest. ... Combatants Jewish Zealots Roman Empire Commanders Elazar ben Yair Lucius Flavius Silva Strength 960 15,000 Casualties 953 Unknown, if any Masada (a romanization of the Hebrew מצדה, Metzada, from מצודה, metzuda, fortress) is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel on... For other uses, see number 74. ... Motto Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR) The Roman Empire at its greatest extent, c. ...

During World War II, Japanese units would often fight to the last man rather than surrender. Towards the end of the war, the Japanese navy sent kamikaze pilots to attack Allied ships. These tactics reflect the influence of the samurai warrior culture, where seppuku was often required after a loss of honor. It is also suggested that the Japanese treated Allied POWs harshly because, in Japanese eyes, by surrendering rather than fighting to the last man, these soldiers showed they were not worthy of honorable treatment. In fact, the Japanese unit in Singapore sentenced an Australian bombing unit to death in admiration for their bravery. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... It has been suggested that Personnel involved in the development of World War II suicide attacks be merged into this article or section. ... Japanese samurai in armour, 1860s. ... “hara-kiri” redirects here. ... Geneva Convention definition A prisoner of war (POW) is a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine who is imprisoned by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict. ...

In modern times, suicide attacks have been used extensively by Islamist Militants. A suicide attack is an attack in which the attacker (attacker being either an individual or a group) intends to kill others and intends to die in the process of doing so (see suicide). ... Islamism is a political ideology derived from the conservative religious views of Muslim fundamentalism. ... The word militant can refer to any individual engaged in warfare, a fight, combat, or generally serving as a soldier. ...

Spies have carried suicide pills or pins to use when captured, partly to avoid the misery of captivity, but also to avoid being forced to disclose secrets. For the latter reason, spies may even have orders to kill themselves if captured – for example, Gary Powers had a suicide pin, but did not use it when he was captured. Spy and Secret agent redirect here. ... Francis Gary Powers with a model of the U-2. ...

Personal honor

In Roman society, suicide was an accepted means by which honor could be preserved. Those charged with capital crimes, for example, could prevent confiscation of their family's estate by taking their own lives before being convicted in court. It was sardonically said of the emperor Domitian that his way of showing mercy was to allow a condemned man to take his own life. Titus Flavius Domitianus (24 October 51 – 18 September 96), commonly known as Domitian, was a Roman Emperor of the gens Flavia. ...

Social protest

The Kaiowas tribe in the South American rainforest committed a mass suicide in protest of a government that was taking away their land and beliefs. This only succeeded because of massive international and national attention; whereas, this would typically fail because everyone supporting the social protest would be dead and that land would be taken regardless.

In the 1960s, Buddhist monks, most notably Thích Quảng Đức, in South Vietnam gained Western praise in their protests against President Ngô Đình Diệm by burning themselves to death. Similar events were reported in eastern Europe, such as Jan Palach following the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1970 Greek Geology student Kostas Georgakis burned himself to death in Genoa, Italy to protest against the Greek military junta of 1967-1974. 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ... A replica of an ancient statue found among the ruins of a temple at Sarnath Buddhism is a philosophy based on the teachings of the Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama, a prince of the Shakyas, whose lifetime is traditionally given as 566 to 486 BCE. It had subsequently been accepted by...   (born Lâm Văn Tức in 1897 - June 11, 1963), was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon intersection on June 11, 1963. ... Official language Vietnamese Capital Saigon Last President Duong Van Minh Last Prime Minister Vu Van Mau Area  - Total  - % water 173,809 km² N/A Population  - Total  - Density 19,370,000 (1973 est. ... The term Western world or the West (also on rare occasions called the Occident) can have multiple meanings depending on its context (i. ... Ngô Đình Diệm â–¶(?) «ngoh dihn zih-ehm» (January 3, 1901 – November 2, 1963) was the first President of the Republic of Vietnam (1955–63). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Map of Eastern Europe Pre-1989 division between the West (grey) and Eastern Bloc (orange) superimposed on current national boundaries: Russia (dark orange), other countries of the former USSR (medium orange),members of the Warsaw pact (light orange), and other former Communist regimes not aligned with Moscow (lightest orange). ... The memorial to Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc in front of the National Museum Jan Palach (August 11, 1948 – January 19, 1969) was a Czech student who committed suicide by self-immolation as a political protest. ... Soviet redirects here. ... This article includes a list of works cited but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... Kostas Georgakis is the only known resistance hero to have sacrificed his life as a protest against the junta Kostas Georgakis (Κώστας Γεωργάκης) born in Corfu in 1948 died 19 September 1970. ... Genoa (Genova in Italian - Zena in Genoese) is a city and a seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria. ... The Phoenix rising from its flames and the silhouette of the soldier bearing a rifle with fixed bayonet was the emblem of the Junta. ...

Periods of persecution

During the Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976), numerous publicly-known figures, especially intellectuals and writers, are reported to have committed suicide, typically to escape persecution, typically at the hands of the Red Guards. Some, or perhaps many, of these reported suicides are suspected by many observers to have, in fact, not been voluntary but instead the result of mistreatment. Some reported suicides include famed writer Lao She, among the best-known 20th century Chinese writers, and journalist Fan Changjiang. This article concerns the Peoples Republic of China. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... Red Guards refer to socialist or communist militia formed to instigate, support, or defend communist revolutions. ... Lao She (老舍, Pinyin: Lǎo Shě), (February 3, 1899 – October 14, 1966) was a noted Chinese writer. ... Fan Changjiang (Trad. ...

Philosophers' views on Suicide

  • Goethe's published Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther) in the late 18th century. It is a romantic story about a young man who kills himself because his love proves unattainable. The story was reputed to have caused a wave of suicides in Germany.
  • Arthur Schopenhauer would be expected to take the subject seriously, due to his bleak view of life. His main work – The World as Will and Representation – constantly uses the act in its examples. He denied that suicide was immoral and saw it as one's right to take their life. In an interesting allegory, he compared ending one's life, when under great suffering, to waking up from sleep, when experiencing a terrible nightmare. However, most suicides were seen as an act of the will, as it takes place when one denies life's pains and is thus different from ascetic renunciation of the will, which denies life's pleasures. His ideas become confused when he talks about ascetic suicides; in one part, he claims that ascetic suicide can only occur through starvation, whilst, in another part, he talks of how ascetics have fed themselves to crocodiles and been buried alive. This seems somewhat contradictory – but it is clear that, all in all, Schopenhauer had sympathy for those who commit suicide.
  • David Hume left an essay on suicide to be published after his death. Most of it is concerned with the idea that it is an affront to God. He argued that it was no more a rebellion against God than to save the life of someone who would otherwise die or to change anything else in the environment's position. He spent much less time dismissing arguments that it was an affront to duty to others or to oneself. He said that it could be compared to retiring from society and becoming a total recluse, which is not normally considered to be immoral – although this comparison of his would not seem to justify a suicide that left children or dependents vulnerable, in its wake. As for duty to self, he saw it as obvious that there would be times when it would be desirable not to continue living and thought it ridiculous that anyone would consider suicide unless they had considered every other option first.
  • Émile Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of sociology, published in 1897 his now famous study Suicide which argued that suicide rates are related to rates of social integration and social regulation. In it, he stated there are four types of suicide: egoistic suicide, altruistic suicide, anomic suicide, and fatalistic suicide.
  • G.K. Chesterton called suicide "the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence". He argued that a person who killed himself, as far as they were concerned, destroyed the entire world.
  • Albert Camus saw the goal of existentialism in establishing whether suicide was necessary in a world without God.
  • Al Alvarez, a poet, wrote a study of suicide in literature entitled The Savage God.
  • Jean Améry, in his book On Suicide: a Discourse on Voluntary Death (originally published in German in 1976), provides a moving insight into the suicidal mind. He argues forcefully and almost romantically that suicide represents the ultimate freedom of humanity, attempting to justify the act with phrases such as "we only arrive at ourselves in a freely chosen death", lamenting the "ridiculously everyday life and its alienation". He killed himself in 1978.
  • William Godwin showed his extreme optimism by stating that suicide was almost always a mistake, as more pleasure is to be gained by living. As he was a utilitarian, who saw moral judgements as based on the pleasure and pain they produced, he thus thought suicide to be immoral.

  Results from FactBites:
Encyclopedia: Suicide (810 words)
Suicide (from Latin sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the act of willfully ending one's own life.
Suicide levels are highest among the retired, unemployed, divorced, the childless, urbanites, and those living alone.
Suicide rates are influenced by publicity about suicide of famous people, and even the fictional suicide of a character in a popular drama can raise the suicide rate temporarily.
  More results at FactBites »



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