Brief History Of Suicide

Every 12 minutes someone dies from suicide. In 2016,  it was the 10th leading cause of death in the US  and the second leading cause of death in children and young adults up to age 35. About 44,965 people take their lives each year. For every suicide death, there are about 25  suicide attempts. And suicide rates are going up.

Thoughts of suicide are reasonable and rational based on perceptions of hopelessness, helplessness, and being a  burden.    The emotional pain of suicide is intolerable.  Happy people don’t kill themselves.  When a person commits suicide that person was in agony.  Edwin Schneidman who developed the field of suicidology aptly described suicide as psychache.

The term suicide was not found in books until around the Renaissance.  Discovery that the pumping heart was essential for life and when the heart stopped pumping life ended was transformational.  This discovery rocked the belief in the afterlife and immortality.    In ancient times, the afterlife negated the possibility of suicide; one could not kill oneself if one did not die but instead entered the afterlife.    Death was not the end but a gateway to another dimension of life in time and space filled with energy.

Early researchers believed there were different types of suicide. Also, suicide was not a sin but viewed as self-destructive in the context of culture, religion, geography, sociology, biology,  psychology, and philosophy.

The context in which suicide occurs is different between younger and older people. Suicide is felt to be impulsive in children and young adults and pre-planned in older people. In older people, medical issues or the loss of a loved one are often factors.

Over the years, I went from suicide was wrong to a belief in its value. Since it is an impulsive act in young people, all efforts should focus on prevention and detection in that age group.  For older people, I believe it’s a get out of life card that can only be used once if successful. Life is not easy! Not everyone wants to suffer until they die.

Yes, you should never give up but is suicide giving up? Or is it the next part of your journey? Older people have earned the right to make that choice.


Image source:  Suicide Prevention Resource Center


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