Many people today dislike
discussing suicide in the same way as,
in the past, talking about sex was prohibited.
Yet, suicide plays a large role in
Suicide has cultural,
philosophical, religious, sociological,
psychological and physical aspects.
With so wide a spectrum of facets, it is no
wonder that it has gripped man's attention since
the dawn of time, and, indeed, there are six
suicides recorded in the Old
It is a sad fact that
children do commit suicide, although many sudden
deaths are reported as accidents. In
children, there is an almost universal fantasy
of 'my parents will fell sorry when I die'. They
do not really believe in their own destruction
until about the age of nine, when death is
realized a final situation; before that, death
is seen as temporary or reversible. More boys
than girls destroy themselves, but girls make
more attempts. Young people are influenced by
family disruption and school difficulties, and
apparently not by social conditions, such as
poverty, wealth, poor living conditions,
deprived circumstances, etc.
In adults, the common
causes for suicide are social isolation, social
mobility and divorce; the common thread
is the weakening of the link between the
individual and his social group.
Suicide is frequently seen
in people who previously showed no evidence of
psychiatric disorder. Usually it is an
attempt to escape from an intolerable situation
fear of dishonour or punishment, social
isolation, loss of a loved one, responsibilities
that are too heavy, sensitivity to criticism.
Serious illness may be found and, indeed,
unfounded fear of illness is not an uncommon
cause. Depressive illness can also change the
outlook of an individual, and sometimes
delusions of guilt can lead to suicide in the
absence of any real adversity.
In the elderly, suicide may
come with the realization of their decline in
physical and mental ability, with
loneliness and isolation, compulsory idleness,
lack of spontaneity and, at times, the presence