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This book discusses the philosophical and practical issues revolving around the subject of suicide. It aims to be a scholarly discussion of the subject and not a debate, guide or recommendation. The authors do not condone or object to the conscious and reflected termination of oneself.

Just as with other causes of death, accidental or inflicted, suicides are mostly about emotional and mental issues and not surprisingly different societies have arrived at different attitudes and points of view regarding suicide and these have varied throughout history. Countries with highest suicide rates include China and India taking first and second place. This topic is sensitive and it should not be for others to rationalize or establish what a proper or acceptable motivation should be behind the act. There should at least exist a degree of respect for this final act of self determination when carefully considered in all its implications, especially beyond those to the self.

Finally, this book is a work in progress. Currently it has had few contributors and part of the content was absorbed from the no longer active SuicideWiki and often streamlined and complemented with content from Wikipedia so what text there is has had little review, due to the nature of the book there may be some attempts of censure and erasure, so check page histories edits when editing. Please feel free to contribute where you can in order to improve it.

Defining Suicide

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In the simplest terms, "suicide" is defined as the intentional act of taking ones own life: the ending all bodily systems and functions of oneself through one's action and direction.

The act of suicide has many nuances. For example, the legal term suicide attempt typically applies to theatrical acts often committed not with the necessary goal of life termination but as a social statement or cry for help. Even inconclusive self-inflicted damage or accidental death can fall under the term suicide and suicide attempt in the legal form. In medicine there is also the term euthanasia which is a form of assisted suicide. In certain cultures, there are honorary forms of suicide which derive from: taking responsibility for one's own failures; sacrificing one's life in warfare for the perceived benefit of one's kin; and sacrificing oneself in the name of a deity and religious struggle.

In this sections we will explore different definitions of suicide and discuss their merits. We will examine

  • Sub-intentional suicide
  • Self Sacrifice made for the benefit of others
  • Suicide as part of different cultures
  • Depression and other mental illness

Suicide as a means to an end

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Suicide has been practiced for a long time as a means to an end. While the individual does not gain anything from the act, they may often find a goal (the advancement of an idea or ideology, the survival of family or friends, or the defense of their land) worth sacrificing their own life.


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Involuntary suicides

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  • Certain soldiers on duty have (involuntarily) committed suicides to avoid being captured alive by the enemies, to be posthumously considered heroes.
  • Forced suicides may be a way of execution, or a major crime if not legally authorized.

Flight from suffering

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A major reason for suicides is the flight from some form of suffering. This can be emotional or physical suffering but either way, the thought of continued living is so overwhelming to some people that they choose to end their lives.

There are arguments for and against such a decision. These include:

  • the potential for recovery which would make the person willing to continue later on
  • the feelings of those who would lose their loved one
  • the moral right to die
  • Moral Reasoning (Note: the bit at the end should be moved to a page linked to from the "means to an end" page)

Common triggers

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Thoughts of suicide are often brought on by external triggers. These can be crises in an individual's personal or professional life, but can be aggravated by other factors.

  • Drugs
    • Alcohol
    • Prescription drugs
  • Environmental
    • Mental torture
  • Influence of Others
    • Peer pressure, including bullying having resulted in so many suicides, even several murder–suicides
  • Hormonal dysfunction, such as during adolescence
  • Mental Condition
  • Depression
  • Self determination

Getting help

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  • Suicide Hotlines for the US.
  • Samaritans is an organization to help people in the United Kingdom and Ireland. They describe themselves in this way "Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide."
  • Hotlines for Canada.
  • Lifeline is a support service for those living in Australia.
  • Karam And Friends Foundation working for Suicide Prevention


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World Health Organization (WHO) data from 2007. Suicide rates per 100,000 people. Current figures.
Suicide death rates for females aged 15 years and older in the United States, by race (1998)

Considering Others

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Suicide rates by methods, aged 15-19 (1992-2001).

Other resources

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