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Suicide (Latin suicidium, from sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the intentional killing of one's self. Many dictionaries also note the metaphorical sense of "willful destruction of one's self-interest"[1] (e.g., "political suicide"). Suicide may occur for a number of reasons, including depression, shame, guilt, desperation, physical pain, emotional pressure, anxiety, financial difficulties, or other undesirable situations. The World Health Organization noted that over one million people commit suicide every year, and that it is one of the leading causes of death among teenagers and adults under 35.[2] There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year worldwide.[3]

Views on suicide have been influenced by cultural views on existential themes such as religion, honor, and the meaning of life. The Abrahamic religions consider suicide an offense towards God due to religious belief in the sanctity of life. In the West it was often regarded as a serious crime. Japanese views on honor and religion led to seppuku, one of the most painful methods of suicide, to be respected as a means to atone for mistakes or failure, or as a form of protest during the samurai era. In the 20th century, suicide in the form of self-immolation has been used as a form of protest, and in the form of kamikaze and suicide bombing as a military or terrorist tactic. Sati is a Hindu funeral practice in which the widow would immolate herself on her husband's funeral pyre, either willingly, or under pressure from the family and in-laws.[4]

For lessons on the topic of Suicide, follow this link.

Medically assisted suicide (euthanasia, or the right to die) is currently a controversial ethical issue involving people who are terminally ill, in extreme pain, and/or have minimal quality of life through injury or illness. Self-sacrifice for others is not usually considered suicide, as the goal is not to kill oneself but to save another.

Over fifty percent of suicides are related to alcohol or drug dependence. Approximately 25 percent of drug addicts and alcoholics commit suicide. In adolescents the figure is higher with alcohol or drug misuse playing a role in up to 70 percent of suicides.[5] The predominant view of modern medicine is that suicide is a mental health concern, associated with psychological factors such as the difficulty of coping with depression, inescapable suffering or fear, or other mental disorders and pressures. A suicide attempt is sometimes interpreted as a "cry for help" and attention, or to express despair and the wish to escape, rather than a genuine intent to die.[6] Most people who attempt suicide do not complete suicide on a first attempt; those who later gain a history of repetitions have a significantly higher probability of eventual completion of suicide.[7]


According to official statistics, about a million people die by suicide annually, more than those murdered or killed in war.[8] According to 2005 data, suicides in the U.S. outnumber homicides by nearly 2 to 1 and ranks as the 11th leading cause of death in the country, ahead of liver disease and Parkinson's disease.[9] Worldwide suicide rates have increased by 60% in the past 50 years, mainly in the developing countries. Most suicides in the world occur in Asia, which is estimated to account for up to 60% of all suicides. According to the World Health Organization, China, India and Japan may account for 40% of all world suicides.[10] In the United States, for example, the rate of suicide is increasing for the first time in a decade. The increase in the overall suicide rate between 1999 and 2005 has been due primarily to an increase in suicides among whites aged 40–64, with white middle-aged women experiencing the largest annual increase.[11]

Gender and suicide


In the Western world, males die much more often by means of suicide than do females, although females attempt suicide more often. This pattern has held for at least a century. Some medical professionals believe this stems from the fact that males are more likely to end their lives through effective violent means (guns, knives, hanging, etc.), while women primarily use less severe methods such as overdosing on medications.

National suicide rates

National suicide rates differ significantly between countries and amongst ethnic groups within countries.[12] For example, in the USA, non-Hispanic Caucasians are nearly 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves than are African Americans or Hispanics.[13] In the United Kingdom suicide rates vary significantly between different parts of the country. In Scotland, for example the suicide rate is approximately double that of England.[14]


  1. "Merriam-Webster OnLine". Retrieved 2007-07-21.
  2. CIS: UN Body Takes On Rising Suicide Rates
  3. Bertolote JM, Fleischmann A (October 2002). "Suicide and psychiatric diagnosis: a worldwide perspective" (PDF). World Psychiatry 1 (3): 181–5. ISSN 1723-8617. PMID 16946849. PMC: 1489848.
  4. Indian woman commits sati suicide
  5. Miller, NS; Mahler; Gold (1991). "Suicide risk associated with drug and alcohol dependence.". Journal of addictive diseases 10 (3): 49–61. ISSN 1055-0887. PMID 1932152.
  6. "WHO Europe - Suicide Prevention" (PDF). World Health Organization. 2005-01-15. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  7. Shaffer D (September 1988). "The epidemiology of teen suicide: an examination of risk factors". J Clin Psychiatry 49 (Suppl): 36–41. ISSN 0160-6689. PMID 3047106.
  8. "Suicide prevention". WHO Sites: Mental Health. World Health Organization. February 16, 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  9. "2005 Data" (PDF). Suicide Prevention. 2005. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
  10. "WHO Statement: World Suicide Prevention Day 2008" (PDF). World Health Organization. 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
  11. U.S. Suicide Rate Increasing Newswise, Retrieved on October 21, 2008.
  12. La Vecchia C, Lucchini F, Levi F (July 1994). "Worldwide trends in suicide mortality, 1955-1989". Acta Psychiatr Scand 90 (1): 53–64. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.1994.tb01556.x. ISSN 0001-690X. PMID 7976451.; Lester, Patterns, 1996, pp. 28-30.
  13. Hoyert DL, Heron MP, Murphy SL, Kung HC (April 2006). "Deaths: final data for 2003" (PDF 3.72 MB). Natl Vital Stat Rep 54 (13): 1–120. ISSN 1551-8922. PMID 16689256.
  14. men: 24.9, women: 8.2, combined: 16.0 Scottish Public Health Observatory (see link to excel spreadsheet) [1]

Further reading

  • Gambotto, Antonella (2004). The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide. Australia: Broken Ankle Books. pp. 197pgs. ISBN 0-975-1075-1-8.
  • Jamison, Kay Redfield (2000). Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide. New York: Vintage. pp. 448pgs.
  • Simpson, George Gaylord; Durkheim, Emile (1997). Suicide: a study in sociology. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-684-83632-7.
  • McDowell, Eugene E.; Stillion, Judith M. (1996). Suicide across the life span: premature exits. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 1-56032-304-3.
  • Stone, Geo (2001). Suicide and attempted suicide. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-0940-5.
  • Hakim, David (2008). Man Down CineSource Magazine.

External links