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:
“It is suicide to be abroad. But what is it to be at home, Mr. Tyler, what is it to be at home? A lingering dissolution.”
—Samuel Beckett (19061989)
“Unless democracy is to commit suicide by consenting to its own destruction, it will have to find some formidable answer to those who come to it saying: I demand from you in the name of your principles the rights which I shall deny to you later in the name of my principles.”
—Walter Lippmann (18891974)
“What man who carries a heavenly soul in him, has not groaned to perceive, that unless he committed a sort of suicide as to the practical things of this world, he never can hope to regulate his earthly conduct by that same heavenly soul?”
—Herman Melville (18191891)