Suicide (Latin suicidium, from sui caedere, "to kill oneself") is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair, the cause of which can be attributed to a mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse. Stress factors such as financial difficulties or troubles with interpersonal relationships often play a significant role.
Over one million people die by suicide every year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that it is the 13th leading cause of death worldwide and the National Safety Council rates it sixth in the United States. It is a leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 35. The rate of suicide is far higher in men than in women, with males worldwide three to four times more likely to kill themselves than females. There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year worldwide.
Views on suicide have been influenced by broader cultural views on existential themes such as religion, honor, and the meaning of life. The Abrahamic religions traditionally consider suicide an offense towards God due to the belief in the sanctity of life. It was often regarded as a serious crime and that view remains commonplace in modern Western thought. However, before the rise of Christianity, suicide was not seen as automatically immoral in ancient Greek and Roman culture. Conversely, during the samurai era in Japan, seppuku was respected as a means of atonement for failure or as a form of protest. Sati is a Hindu funeral practice, now outlawed, in which the widow was expected to immolate herself on her husband's funeral pyre, either willingly or under pressure from the family and society. In the 20th and 21st centuries, suicide in the form of self-immolation has been used as a medium of protest, and the form of kamikaze and suicide bombings as a military or terrorist tactic.
Medically assisted suicide and euthanasia are controversial issues in modern ethics. The defining characteristic is the focus on people who are terminally ill, in extreme pain, or possessing (actual or perceived) minimal quality of life resulting from an injury or illness. Self-sacrifice on behalf of another is not necessarily considered suicide; the subjective goal is not to end one's own life, but rather to save the life of another. However, in Émile Durkheim's theory, such acts are termed "altruistic suicide."
Famous quotes containing the word suicide:
“However great a mans fear of life, suicide remains the courageous act, the clear- headed act of a mathematician. The suicide has judged by the laws of chanceso many odds against one that to live will be more miserable than to die. His sense of mathematics is greater than his sense of survival.”
—Graham Greene (19041991)
“Allow me to say that I would long since have committed suicide had desisting made me a professor of Latin.”
—Ezra Pound (18851972)
“Fame is no sanctuary from the passing of youth ... suicide is much easier and more acceptable in Hollywood than growing old gracefully.”
—Julie Burchill (b. 1960)