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Title: Suicide - Its History, Literature, Jurisprudence, Causation, and Prevention
Author: Westcott, W. Wynn (William Wynn)
Language: English
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A Social Science Treatise.


Its History, Literature, Jurisprudence, Causation, and Prevention.



Deputy Coroner for Central Middlesex.

Joint Author of the Extra Pharmacopœia.

H. K. Lewis, 136, Gower Street, W.C.


                  GEORGE DANFORD THOMAS, ESQ., M.D.,


                            THIS VOLUME IS


                     WITH MUCH RESPECT AND ESTEEM


                              THE AUTHOR.


In preparing an Essay on Suicide, which I recently delivered before a
Society of medical men in London, I found it impossible in the limited
time at my disposal to do anything like justice to the gravity and
importance of the subject.

The question is one well worthy of the earnest consideration of the
community; indeed, it may be legitimately regarded as one of our
Social Problems, as it involves matters which are intimately connected
with our social organisation, and is with propriety embraced in our
legislative enactments.

When we reflect, with satisfaction perhaps, that in England crime has
been steadily decreasing, the fact that Suicide has been as steadily on
the increase in Great Britain, and in almost every country in Europe,
while it awakens our sympathy on behalf of the unhappy victims, should
stimulate our exertions towards promoting the diminution of this moral
plague spot.

These considerations, added to the fact that there are but two books
in the English language devoted entirely to this subject,─one dated as
far back as 1840, and the other, a most valuable but almost entirely
statistical work, translated from the Italian,─have induced me to
re-arrange and extend my notes, and I now offer them to my professional
brethren and other students of Social Science in the following short
treatise on the History, Literature, Jurisprudence, Causation, and
Prevention of Suicide.

As Deputy Coroner for Central Middlesex frequent opportunities are
afforded me of investigating cases of Suicide, and I have added to this
volume original instances and estimates derived from those suicidal
deaths of London, upon which inquests have been held by Dr. Danford
Thomas, or myself.

The works of Legoyt, Morselli, and Wagner, contain an almost complete
estimation of the statistical proportions in regard to the causes and
means of suicide in France, Italy, Germany, &c., and to them I am
greatly indebted for such information.

The Bibliographical Index contains the titles of other works which have
been consulted.

Let me hope that my humble efforts may tend in some degree to the
prevention of self-destruction, and the promotion of a more robust and
healthy public opinion on the subject: if this volume conduces to these
ends my object will have been achieved.

In conclusion, I must express my deep obligation to my friend Dr.
Duncan MacLarty, for his many welcome suggestions, and for his care in
revising these sheets for the press.


  4, Torriano Avenue,
  London, N.W.



  CHAPTER I. Introduction; the Ethics of the Subject                   1

     „   II. History: Ancient and Modern                               7

     „   III. Notable Suicides: Ancient, of the Middle
               Ages, and Modern                                       17

     „   IV. Origin of the Name; Classic Authors,
               examples of the Literature of Suicide,
               English and Foreign                                    29

     „   V. Jurisprudence; Suicide as a Crime in
               England, and abroad                                    43

     „   VI. Jurisprudence; Suicide and Life Assurance;
               in respect to Marriage, and to
               Wills                                                  51

     „   VII. Present Rate, and Increase, in Europe                   58

     „   VIII. Causation in general, Classification                   65

     „   IX. Effect of Race, Climate, &c.                             75

     „   X. Effect of Education, Religion, and
               Morality                                               81

     „   XI. Effect of Urban and Rural Life, and
               Employment; the effect of Military,
               Naval, and Prison Life                                 93

     „   XII. Effect of Times and Seasons                            102

     „   XIII. Effect of Age, Sex, and Social State                  107

     „   XIV. Mental Diseases                                        116

     „   XV. Epidemic Suicide, and Suicide from
               Imitation, and for Notoriety                          129

     „   XVI. Effect of Bodily Diseases, Alcoholism,
               Want of Sleep; Hereditary influence,
               and Spiritualism                                      135

     „   XVII. Effect of Tædium Vitæ, the Passions,
               Misery, and Despair                                   141

     „   XVIII. The Means of Suicide, their relative
               frequency at home, and abroad                         144

     „   XIX. Suicide compared to Crime in
               General; Attempted Suicide, its relative
               amount                                                154

     „   XX. Suicide in British India                                161

     „   XXI. The Prevention, and Treatment of
               the Suicidal tendency                                 166

     „   XXII. The Suicide of Animals                                174

  Appendix, Rules of Assurance Companies                             180

  BIBLIOGRAPHICAL INDEX                                              182

  GENERAL INDEX                                                      187



In every age of the world, and in the history of almost every country,
we find instances more or less numerous of men and women who,
preferring the dim uncertainty of the future to the painful realities
of the present, have sought relief from all their troubles by suddenly
terminating their own existence.

Misery and pain have been the lot of the human race ever since the
dawn of history, and these causes have from the earliest times induced
persons to destroy themselves, and even the fear of eternal punishment
has not sufficed to deter them.

Sorrow, suffering, and mental disease are practically the only causes
of Modern Suicide; but in the ancient world, suicides from these causes
were either much more rare than they are at the present time, or else
were passed over as unworthy of record, in the presence of suicides
of a more honourable nature. Hundreds of instances have come down to
us in which death has been self-sought and inflicted from an idea or
conviction that such self-destruction was to be of obvious advantage
to the state, or to the sufferer’s family; or again, the fatal act was
frequently committed as a point of honour to obviate the disgrace and
ignominy of falling into the hands of a conqueror; or, again, to avoid
pollution and shame at the hands of unscrupulous and debased tyrants.

The history of the Jews as narrated in the Old Testament probably shows
fewer instances of Suicide than the records of any other nation (nine
only in 4,000 years); but whether or no there has been any special
interposition of Providence on their behalf, or whether the result has
been due to the inherent virtues of the laws of Moses, this is not the
proper place to discuss or decide.

It cannot be denied that the influence of religion has caused thousands
to make a voluntary sacrifice of their lives, as offerings to their
deities; and thousands more have voluntarily courted death to prove the
sincerity of their faith.

Madame de Stael has, with questionable propriety, pointed out that
all the “martyr throng” were really instances of self-destruction
instigated by devotion to faith, and that all suicides to avoid the
stain of guilt are deaths of duty.

But, among the numberless faiths of the world, extinct, and now
existing, many have had a direct tendency to invest the idea of
self-destruction with a charm. Some because they taught the doctrine
of total extinction at death; others because they inculcated a belief
in metempsychosis; whilst others, again, have taught the certainty of
bliss hereafter, if death occur, whether self-sought or otherwise,
while fighting for the faith.

Philosophy also, which at different times supplanted or supplemented
religious ideas, has often notably encouraged Suicide. The far-famed
system of the Stoics, founded by Zeno, directly approved of it; to
them it was the culminating point of self-abnegation, a flight from
degradation. The equally notable system of the Epicureans also found
in Suicide a congenial theme for panegyric; they believed in no future
state, and proposed it as a means of escape from pain or annoyance here.

In recent times, accompanying periods of decline of religious
fervour, new systems of mental and moral philosophy have sprung up
and become popular; and these, if not openly advocating the cause and
permissibility of self-murder, have never associated themselves with
Christianity in condemning it. A perusal of the volumes of Voltaire, J.
J. Rousseau, and of David Hume, will make this obvious.

But it seems probable that in the minds of many suicides there
has been, below any religious faith, or philosophical dogma, the
deeply-rooted conviction that death was a sleep and permanent rest, an
eternal oblivion in the grave, and they consequently came to regard
it as the grand solatium for present heart-breaking grief of mind, or
intolerable pain of body.

No more powerful individual deterrent has been suggested than the
firm unwavering mental conviction (which has always been propounded
by the Christian church) that a self-inflicted death is an evil to
which nothing on this side of the grave can compare, and that to rush
unsolicited into the presence of the Creator is an inexpiable crime.

As a general preventive, the force of a well directed system of
education, acting on the probably unlimited capacity for improvement
inherent in the human race, is the lever to which modern civilization
is disposed to trust.

But as I have already stated, several modern systems of philosophy
and ethics, whilst they are the offshoots and result of a more highly
developed mind, yet have not assisted in the extinction of this blot,
but have rather tended to exculpate suicide, and remove the idea of its
moral sinfulness.

The line of argument with respect to our subject, which is followed by
some of those who lead modern philosophical thought, may perhaps be
briefly outlined as follows:─

 It is an essential attribute of Humanity that it is progressive;
 systems of Morality arise which are each of a higher nature than the
 preceding; there is no finality even in Religious improvement.

 All Religions become improved in the course of time, by casting aside
 their harsher outlines and less delicate features; for example, the
 Christian’s Hell, from being a fiery corporeal dungeon, is developed
 into a period of mental torture and remorse.

 Even Christianity then is exalting itself; it has of late tacitly
 consented to the removal of earthly penalties from the sin of
 Suicide, penalties which in a bygone age statute law borrowed from
 ecclesiastical law; this is one mark of its progressiveness.

 Nothing is practically gained by calling Suicide a _crime_; no one
 about to slay himself to be rid of brain-distracting trouble will be
 restrained by the thought that his proposed action is _criminal_; in
 some cases self-destruction is contemptible and cowardly; in some it
 is venial; in some cases death is distinctly the lesser evil, in a few
 it has been honourable, and as such should escape all condemnation,
 and merit the approval of men of development and refinement. In
 conclusion, says Philosophy, neither marks of contempt to the corpse,
 nor legal forfeitures, nor branding the suicide’s memory,─the three
 ecclesiastical penalties,─have had any obvious effect in checking the

 Nothing but the increase of education will suffice to prevent those
 suicides which are prompted by immoral thoughts and feelings; as to
 the venial ones, such as we see in those who but anticipate the hour
 of release from the tortures of disease, why should we, who are not
 ill, grudge them this relief: and as to those inspired by the highest
 and most refined sentiments of honour, we are well content to live in
 a world in which such valour and self-sacrifice are exhibited.

The author hopes no individual will feel aggrieved at this _resumé_
of the so-called _advanced_ views on Suicide of to-day; he does
not associate them with any person in particular. These maxims
simply represent the impressions remaining on his mind after several
conversations with men who cultivate the modern developments of thought.

With this apology to the readers of these pages, the divergence between
Christian and philosophic views is left behind; and the main object of
the work is pursued in an independent scientific vein, without straying
into the bye-ways of Ethical discussion.



The history of Greece extends back to such a remote period that it is
not clearly evident what the general opinion on Suicide was among its
early inhabitants. However, a few landmarks occur. In such a dim past
as the time of the Trojan War, Ajax, one of the Grecian heroes, slew
himself, in a fit of passion, brought on by offended vanity. Lycurgus,
the legislator of Sparta, was one who killed himself for his country’s

STRABO, the historian, in his Tenth Book, tells us that at Ceos, the
country of Simonides, B.C. 500, it was an established custom to allow
the act of self-destruction to persons who had attained the age of 60,
or who had become incapacitated by their infirmities. Several suicides
can be directly traced to oracles; the great Oracle at Delphi has
become especially notorious; Codrus, king of Athens, and Aristodemus,
killed themselves distinctly in consequence of these oracular

There is a _tradition_ mentioned by Plutarch, Pliny, and Virgil, that
on the coast of Epirus, on the peninsula called Neritos (Virgil,
Æneid, iii., 271), overlooking the Ionian Sea, was the hill then named
Leucate, or Leucadia; here stood a Temple dedicated to Apollo, and
from this rock a suicidal leap into the sea became the common sequence
to disappointed love, for the Greeks of those times. Sappho, a poetess,
whose love for Phaon was unrequited, is said to have originated the
custom; an arm of the sea has, since then, cut off this promontory
from the mainland, and the island is now called St. Maur. Tradition is
evidence of the existence of a _custom_, even if it be objected to as
proof of an individual fact.

Timon of Athens, the Misanthrope, whose exact era is also uncertain, is
narrated to have been a suicide; he met with some curable accident, but
from his intense dislike of his fellowmen he refused all assistance,
and allowed himself to die unrelieved. This was the philosopher who is
said to have kept in his garden a fig-tree specially convenient for
hanging oneself on, and which he refrained from having cut down, so as
to be able to accommodate his friends. Shakespeare’s play “Timon of
Athens,” refers to this odd character.

The Spartans, that brave and hardy race, are known to have disapproved
of Suicide; it is narrated that an honourable burial was refused to
Artemidorus, who sacrificed his life unnecessarily at the battle of
Platœa, which was fought B. C. 479, between the united Greeks and the
Persians. Among the suicides of Greece, however, occur the names of
some of her greatest men, lawgivers, orators, generals, philosophers,
and statesmen; although we find in Greek custom more condemnation of
the practice than in Roman law.

In Thebes, it was a custom that no honours should be paid at the death
of a suicide, and no funeral rites were allowed; the body was ordered
to be burned in the absence of the relatives of the deceased.

At Athens, a suicide was not allowed to be burned and his ashes
preserved, as was the custom for the rich and great, if such died in
war, or by a natural death. See Samuel Petit, “De Legibus Atticis.”

The body was _buried_ instead, and the right hand struck off and buried
in a separate place. See Æschines, Ctesiphon, and in Plato, Laws, Book
ix., regulations are laid down for the burial of suicides.

Aristotle, in his Ethics, v., cap. xi., describes his views of the
crime, calling it a “sin against the state,” and adds that the memory
of the Suicide should be marked by infamy.

A reference to the List of Notable Suicides which follows in Chapter
III., will show that persons of the highest intelligence have committed
suicide at each epoch of ancient history.

In a survey of the history of Rome we find mention of an Epidemic of
Suicide among the soldiers of Tarquin the First; they were ordered to
the task of excavating sewers in Rome, and believing this work to be
derogatory to their dignity, they killed themselves in large numbers:
the tendency was checked by an edict that the bodies of all suicides
should be exposed to public view nailed on crosses. See Pliny, Nat.
Hist., Book xxvi. cap. xv.

But in the very long period during which the Roman state was advancing
to greatness, and throughout the times of the Republic, suicide was a
very rare occurrence.

In the later part of Rome’s history, during the empire, it became a
very prominent crime; when luxury and sloth predominated, and the
doctrines of the philosophers Zeno and Epicurus became fashionable,
suicide became rampant. In the reigns of Claudius, A.D. 42, and Nero,
A.D. 55, even Seneca, that cultured villain, acknowledged its practice
to be _excessively_ frequent, although he ultimately committed the
act himself. At this time the prevailing sentiment was thus tersely
expressed, “Mori licet cui vivere non placet,” in the language of the
Stoic school.

But throughout the whole history of Rome there was no statute declaring
it to be either a crime or a misdemeanour, and no punishment for
the attempt, among the people; but the soldiers of the state were
restrained by a Military Law, and the attempt punished by ignominy. One
such statute was published by the Emperor Hadrian, A.D. 138. See Digest
of Roman Law, “De re militari.”

VALERIUS MAXIMUS, Lib. 2, cap. 6, a Roman writer of the first century,
_circa_ A.D. 31, tells us that at Massilia, a colony, the Senate
kept a supply of poison, which was distributed to applicants for the
purpose of suicide, if the Senate thought their reasons sufficient. See
Montaigne, Essais, Liv. iv., chap. 3.

PLINY the Elder, A.D. 79, says there are three diseases, to escape any
one of which a man has a good title to destroy himself, and the worst
of these is stone in the bladder; and he adds, “it is a privilege of
man which Deity does not possess.”

TACITUS, d. A.D. 135, remarks that among the nobles, suicide was the
frequent result of misfortune, or the public disgrace of falling under
the displeasure of the Emperor.

MARCUS AURELIUS, _circa_ A. D. 150, is said to have remarked that “a
man had as much right to leave the world as he had to leave a room full
of smoke.”

DIOGENES LAERTIUS, _circa_ A. D. 220, tells us that the greatest
leaders of men advised the wise to its commission. Lib. viii., i. 66.

LIVY, CÆSAR, and TACITUS mention that the warlike, semi-savage races
who peopled North and West Europe, the Iberians, Gauls, Cimri, and
Germans, were all much addicted to self-slaughter, especially in order
to avoid slavery, and the shame of defeat.

LIVY also speaks of its prevalence among the people of Northern Africa,
in the time of Scipio, a Roman general, who was engaged in the Punic
wars, and who had ample opportunities of observation in those countries.

PLUTARCH, in his Life of Alexander the Great, narrates the death of the
Brahmin Calanus, who burned himself with much ceremony in the presence
of the Macedonian army, and apparently without any particular reason.

The Brahmin Sages of the Hindoo races taught the virtues of suicide, as
a mode of escape from the pangs of disease and the weakness of old age.

JOSEPHUS, in his “History of the Wars of the Jews,” Lib. vii., cap.
34, gives a full description of the frightful suicidal slaughter among
them at the siege of Jerusalem, in which he himself was engaged, and
in which self-destruction his faithful guard Simon begged him to
participate, and after its capture, some thousands, under Eleazar,
retired to the fortress of Massada, and there killed themselves to
avoid falling into the hands of the Romans.

The doctrines of Mohammed in respect to suicide are revealed in
numerous parts of the Koran; it is spoken of as a crime which rouses
all the anger of Allah, and warns believers that its commission will
be punished in another life. See Koran, iv., v. 33. “Do not kill
yourselves, for God is merciful, and whosoever killeth himself through
malice and wickedness, shall assuredly be burned in hell fire.”

A celebrated Ottoman says, “This crime is of a more grave nature than
homicide.” The Koran, Surah iii. v. 149, says, “Man does not die but by
the will of God, and at the end of his appointed time.”

And the Mohammedan races have throughout history exhibited an
avoidance of suicide, which is markedly seen where these dwell in
apposition to the Brahmin races of India, who have always rejoiced
in self-destruction; casting themselves into their sacred rivers,
and leaving their old people on the banks to be drowned; throwing
themselves beneath the wheels of their idol statues, and insisting on
the self-sacrifice of the widows of their nation.

Legoyt mentions that in Armenia, in ancient times, the house of a
suicide was cursed and then burnt.

The Tartar races of Central Asia avoid suicide.

In the ancient kingdom of Persia, it was a rare occurrence, no doubt
because it was forbidden by the Magian religion.

The only Mohammedans who have approved of suicide have been dissenters
from the pure faith of Islam; such sects as those of the Assassins
under the leadership of the Sheik Al Djebal, the “Old Man of the
Mountain,” and the disciples of Babek and Karmath, who massacred the
inhabitants of Mecca in the tenth century.

In China and in Japan, even up to our own times, Suicide has been
regarded as a virtue; life is held cheaply there, and if a mandarin
or other official be superseded, he turns quite naturally to suicide
as the proper end of his existence; but during the last few years in
Japan, especially where there has been intercourse with Europeans,
there are regulations intended to prevent it; ten years imprisonment is
the punishment for the attempt in the case of lovers.

Until lately it was the custom for a man of honour who had been
insulted by another, to rip his body open with a sword, in presence
of his opponent, calling on him to do likewise; the aggressor was
dishonoured for ever if he failed to do so.

The Peruvians and Mexicans, at the time of the Spanish conquest, killed
themselves in large numbers rather than be slain or made captive by the

The Priests of Ancient Egypt, who were the philosophers of the nation,
by their doctrines of a universal soul and metempsychosis, contributed
not a little to popularise suicide.─Bayle.

Sesostris, who had become blind, killed himself, with calmness and

But at a later date, following the death of Cleopatra, it became even
more usual; a society existed for the purpose of associating together
persons desirous of self-inflicted death.─Buonafede.

Among the Chaldeans, as among the Hebrews, suicide seems to have been

On the coast of Malabar, it was the custom for wives to throw
themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands.─Voltaire. And among
the Negro races of Africa the same custom has been noted.

Among the aboriginal natives of the North American Continent, somewhat
similar customs prevailed to those referred to in India among the
Brahmins; wives and slaves had to sacrifice themselves at a chief’s

The ancient Scandinavian tribes, the worshippers of Odin, anticipated
their entry after death into the Hall of Valhalla, otherwise “the hall
of those dead by violence,” and hence old persons and others who had
failed to die in battle, were led to seek death at their own hands.

Christianity, the greatest Religion, founded upon and springing from
the decadent Jewish Faith, at once condemned suicide, thus following up
the traditions which the Jews had preserved from their earliest times.

The Fathers of the Christian Church denounced it; St. Augustine in his
“City of God,” St. Chrysostom, and Thomas Aquinas, are particularly
prominent in inveighing against the enormity of the offence, and yet
even these condoned the sin in certain instances.

The Councils of the Church repeatedly censured it.

The Council of Arles, A.D. 452, condemned it as a crime, which could
only be due to diabolical energy.

The Council of Braga, A.D. 563, repeated the condemnation.

The Council of Auxerre, A.D. 578, inflicted a penalty on its
commission, viz.: no commemoration was to be made in the Eucharist, and
no Psalms were to be sung at the burial.

The Council of Troyes of the ninth century renewed these ecclesiastical

Pope Nicholas I. says, “a suicide must be buried, but only lest the
omission should be offensive to others.”

Charlemagne adopted the principle of refusing the Mass, but allowed
psalms and charitable subscriptions for prayers for the dead to be
used, because, he said, “no one can sound the depths of God’s designs.”

The Roman Catholic canon law, section De Pœnitentia, assures us that
Judas committed a greater sin in killing himself than in betraying his
master Christ to a certain death.

In our own country we find the Anglo Saxon King Edgar assimilated the
crime of suicide to that of murder in general, and ordered that the
suicide was not to be buried in holy (_i.e._ consecrated) ground, and
neither psalms nor masses were to be used.

For several centuries afterwards, the civil lawgivers of England
remained content to allow suicide to fall under Ecclesiastical Law, but
at the Reformation the Ecclesiastical Statutes were incorporated with
the Statute law of the realm, thus constituting it a civil offence as
well as a great moral crime.

In France, Louis IX., Saint, d. 1270, enforced the penalty of the
confiscation of the property of a suicide; and by the criminal law of
Louis XIV., dated 1670, the statutes relating to suicide were revised,
and the body was ordered to be dragged at the cart’s tail.

It became the custom of Normandy to insist on forfeiture of estate if
the suicide was committed to avoid punishment, and not otherwise.

The Parliament of Toulouse also decided in this manner.

In the 14th century Charles V. imposed this law on all the country
under his dominion; and indeed it remained in force in France until
1789, when it was repealed by the National Assembly, because it impeded
human liberty of action. Suicide is not a crime in the Code Napoleon.

Yet in the early Christian centuries suicide lingered on as an
occasional virtue, either for the purpose of preserving the faith, or
to avoid apostacy, to procure the honour of martyrdom, or to retain the
crown of virginity: some eminent Christian teachers have considered
such deaths desirable. The Roman Catholic Saints Pelagia and Sophronia
were examples of canonised suicides; and two widows, Berenice and
Prosdocea, are praised by St. Chrysostom for destroying themselves to
avoid pollution.




ABIMELECH, 1206 B.C., King of the Shechemites. Judges, cap. ix.

SAMSON, 1120 B.C., Judge of Israel. Judges, cap. xvi.

SAUL, 1050 B.C., the first King of Israel. I. Samuel, cap. xxxi.

SAUL’S Armour Bearer, an Amalekite, loc. cit.

AHITOPHEL, 1023 B.C., Counsellor of David. II. Samuel, cap. xvii.

ZIMRI, 929 B.C., King of Israel. II. Kings, cap. xvi.

ELEAZAR, 164 B.C., one of the Maccabees. I. Maccabees, cap. vi.

RAZIS, 162 B.C., a Jewish Elder. II. Maccabees, cap. xiv.

JUDAS ISCARIOT, A.D. 33, the Traitor. Acts, cap. i.

PONTIUS PILATE, A.D. 36, Procurator of Judaea. Josephus. Antiquities,
xviii., 4, 1, 2, and also Eusebius, History, cap. ii. 7.


SESOSTRIS, or RAMESES the Great, King of Egypt, killed himself in
despair at having lost his sight.

MENON, 2000 B.C., Governor of Nineveh, first husband of Semiramis,
afterwards Queen of Assyria; he hung himself when Ninus the King became
enamoured of his wife.

AJAX, 1184 B.C., in the Trojan War, slew himself in a frenzy of anger
against Ulysses, to whom instead of to himself the armour of the dead
Hector had been allotted.

CODRUS, 1070 B.C., the last King of Athens; he was at war with the
Heraclidæ, an oracle had foretold that the victory would fall to the
nation whose king died in battle. Codrus entered the enemy’s camp in
disguise, provoked a quarrel with two of the soldiers, and was killed
by them.

DIDO, 1000 B.C., Princess of Tyre, widow of Sichæus, having founded
Carthage, stabbed herself on her funeral pile, to avoid marriage with
Jarbos, she having vowed eternal fidelity to her husband’s memory.

LYCURGUS, 900 B.C., Lawgiver of Sparta, prepared a code of laws for the
people, bound them to observe these laws during his absence, then left
the State, and destroyed himself. These laws remained in force for 700

SARDANAPALUS, 759 B.C., King of Assyria, burned himself in his palace
with his wives.

ARISTODEMUS, 730 B. C. having killed his daughter to propitiate the
oracle at Delphi, slew himself on her tomb, from remorse.

CHARONDAS, 560 B.C., the Lawgiver of Catana, a Greek colony in Sicily,
made it a law, with the penalty of death, that no man should enter the
assembly armed: returning one day from pursuing some robbers beyond the
city, he entered the assembly to report, without having laid aside his
weapons. Being taxed with breaking his own laws, he slew himself on the

LUCRETIA, 510 B.C., wife of Tarquinius Collatinus, stabbed herself
in the presence of her husband and father as a protest against her
attempted rape by Sextus, son of Tarquinius Superbus.

ARTEMIDORUS, 479 B.C., threw his life away in the battle of Platæa.

THEMISTOCLES, 449 B.C., an Athenian General, was banished, and
ultimately poisoned himself.

ISOCRATES, 436 B.C., an Athenian orator, starved himself to death, on
account of the defeat of his countrymen in the battle of Cheronæa.

EMPEDOCLES, 435 B.C., poet and philosopher, threw himself into the
crater of Mount Etna.

APPIUS, THE DECEMVIR, 400 B.C., killed himself in prison, where he
was cast by the Tribunes after the storm of popular indignation which
followed his attempted seduction of Virginia.

DECIUS MUS, 338 B.C., Roman Consul, threw away his life in battle
against the Latins, as did his son, B.C. 296, and his grandson, B. C.

DEMOSTHENES, 325 B.C., the most celebrated orator of antiquity,
poisoned himself to escape from the pursuit of the soldiers of

NICOCLES, 310 B.C., King of Paphos, in Cyprus, intrigued against
Ptolemy, and destroyed himself, and his whole family did the same, to
avoid being disgraced.

BRENNUS, 278 B.C., a Gallic general, invaded Greece, but his army being
defeated, he killed himself in a fit of intoxication.

ZENO, 264 B.C., founder of the Stoic sect of philosophers, in walking
in his school one day, he fell and broke a finger; this so disgusted
him with life in this world, that he went straight home and strangled

REGULUS, 251 B.C., a Roman consul during the First Punic War,
was defeated and taken prisoner to Carthage. Some years after he
was allowed to go to Rome to negotiate an exchange of prisoners,
having first been compelled to bind himself by an oath to return if
unsuccessful. On arriving in Rome he dissuaded his countrymen from the
proposed terms and then promptly returned to certain death at Carthage.

THEOXENA AND HER HUSBAND threw themselves into the sea to escape
capture by the soldiers of Philip of Macedon.

CLEANTHES, 240 B.C., a Stoic philosopher, starved himself because he
was seized with an illness, preferring death to lingering disease.

HASDRUBAL, THE WIFE OF, 216 B.C., set fire to a temple and threw
herself and her two children into the flames rather than fall into
the hands of Scipio the Roman general. Her husband was a Carthaginian
general who fought in the Second Punic war.

SOPHONISBA, 203 B.C., was the daughter of Hasdrubal the Carthaginian
general, married to Syphax, Prince of Numidia; but she fell a captive
into the hands of Masinissa, who then took her to wife, but Scipio the
Roman general having seen her, also fancied her as a wife, so she drank
poison to avoid this second change.

ERATOSTHENES, 194 B.C., mathematician, starved himself to death because
he found his sight failing him.

HANNIBAL, 183 B.C., a celebrated Carthaginian general, being defeated
by Scipio at Zama, fled to Bithynia, but being pursued even there,
killed himself by means of poison, which he always carried about him
concealed in rings.

CLEOMBROTUS, a young Greek philosopher, who after reading the Phædon of
Plato, threw himself off a wall into the sea. (Ovid.)

ARISTARCHUS, 157 B.C., grammarian and critic, starved himself to death,
at Cyprus, after being banished from Alexandria.

CAIUS GRACCHUS, 121 B.C., Tribune of Rome, was killed by a slave at his
own request, after defeat by the consul Opimius.

ANTIOCHUS OF CYZICUS, 95 B.C., King of Syria, killed himself when
dethroned by Seleucus.

MITHRIDATES, KING OF PONTUS, 63 B.C., killed himself to avoid falling
into the hands of the Romans, after being defeated by Pompey.

LUCRETIUS, 54 B.C., Roman poet and philosopher, destroyed himself in
his forty-fourth year.

PTOLEMY, 50 B.C., King of Cyprus, killed himself by poison.

CATO, MARCUS, 46 B.C., having opposed Cæsar, unsuccessfully, retired to
Utica, and feeling too proud to humiliate himself before a conqueror,
stabbed himself, and died the same night, after spending his last hours
in reading Plato’s Phædon, a dialogue on the Immortality of the Soul.

BRUTUS, 42 B.C., Roman statesman, slew himself with his sword after
defeat at the battle of Philippi.

PORTIA, his wife, killed herself by swallowing red-hot coals on hearing
of her husband’s death.

CASSIUS, 42 B.C., Roman general, being defeated at the battle of
Philippi by Antony and Octavian, threw himself on his sword.

POMPONIUS ATTICUS, 33 B.C., man of letters, starved himself, because he
became afflicted with some intestinal disease.

MARK ANTONY, 30 B.C., Roman Consul, general, and statesman, being
defeated at the battle of Actium, and deserted as he thought by
Cleopatra, cut open his bowels and died in terrible agony.

CLEOPATRA, 30 B.C., Queen of Egypt, the beloved of Antony, on hearing
of his death, killed herself. The only mark of injury on her body was
a small puncture on the arm; it is doubtful whether this was caused by
the bite of an asp, or by a poisoned bodkin.

COCCEIUS NERVA, A.D. 20, an eminent lawyer and favourite of the Emperor
Tiberius, starved himself as a protest against the extravagance of the

GALLUS, A.D. 26, Roman poet, killed himself when exiled for treason: he
was a friend of Virgil.

ARRIA and her husband PÆTUS, A.D. 45. Pætus had revolted against
the Emperor Claudius, without success. Finding his condemnation
unavoidable, Arria stabbed herself, calling on her husband to imitate
her, which he did.

BOADICEA, A.D. 60. Queen of the Iceni in Britain, in the time of Nero,
being defeated by the Roman General Suetonius, she poisoned herself.

APICIUS, A.D. 64., the greatest glutton known to history, hanged

SENECA, A.D. 65, Rhetorician, and tutor to Nero, opened his veins and
bled himself to death, when under condemnation for conspiracy. Paulina,
his wife, opened her veins at the same time.

LUCAN, A.D. 66, a Roman poet, being concerned in the same conspiracy as
Seneca, killed himself in the same manner.

NERO, A.D. 68, Emperor of Rome, was condemned for his villanies to be
whipped to death; to avoid this execution he destroyed himself.

OTHO, A.D. 69, Roman Emperor, after a reign of three months, was
defeated by Vitellius, and then slew himself in disgust.

JEWS, the, at the Siege of Jerusalem by Titus, A.D. 70. Josephus
narrates that the Jewish soldiers destroyed themselves in large
numbers, and endeavoured to prevail on him to do the same.

SILIUS ITALICUS, A.D. 90, a Roman Consul and poet, being afflicted with
an incurable disease at 75 years old, starved himself to death.

PELAGIA, of Antioch, A.D. 310, cast herself off the house top to avoid
the persecutions of the Pagans, and was afterwards canonised as a Saint
by the Roman Catholic Church; see St. Ambrose, De Virginibus.

SOPHRONIA, A.D. 310, canonised as Saint Sophronia, destroyed herself to
avoid the snares set for her modesty by the Emperor Maxentius.

CORELLIUS RUFUS, A.D. 110. Pliny the Younger speaks in terms of sincere
regret that this friend should have taken his own life.

SERVIUS, the Grammarian, A.D. 400, who wrote commentaries on Virgil,
killed himself in the reign of Honorius, rather than suffer the pains
of the gout, to which he was very subject.


A very long interval occurs here, during which period I cannot discover
any Notable Suicides: on passing to the next series a great change will
be noticed as to causation, the days of suicide for honour are passed:
Misery has become the mainspring.

RICHARD II., King of England, 1399. Some historians, as Walsingham,
Otterbourne, and Peter of Blois, say that this king starved himself to

CHARLES VII., King of France, 1461, starved himself, because he feared
the Dauphin would poison him.

ACOSTA, URIEL, 1647, a Jew who became a Christian, but becoming
involved in the toils of the Inquisition, destroyed himself.

BURTON, ROBERT, 1660, author of the “Anatomy of Melancholy,” committed
suicide to verify the prophecy he had made as to the date of his death.

TEMPLE, JOHN, 1689, Secretary of State for War.

CREECH, THOMAS, 1700, the learned translator of “Lucretius,” killed
himself in imitation of the author whose works he translated.

BUDGELL, EUSTACE, 1714, author, threw himself from a boat into the

SCARBOROUGH, LORD, 1727, killed himself in the dilemma which of two
ladies to associate with.

GREEN, W., 1750, a weaver, jumped off the Monument, London.

CHATTERTON, THOMAS, 1770, Poet, by poison, from poverty.

CLIVE, LORD, 1774, shot himself; he had been ungratefully treated; he
had, however, made two attempts on his life in his youth.

CARDAN, JEROME, 1575, Physician and Astrologer, having foretold his
death for a certain date, and finding himself still well, killed
himself to verify his prophecy.

ROUSSEAU, J. J., 1778. Some authorities say he poisoned himself by

CRADDOCK, T., 1780, a baker, jumped off the top of the Monument,

CLAVIERE, E., 1793, the Girondin, stabbed himself; and his wife killed
herself after him.

CONDORCET, M. J. A., 1794, French Mathematician, killed himself in

ROLAND, 1795, French Minister, by a sword thrust.

ROMME, 1795, French Statesman, by stabbing.

PICHEGRU, C., 1804, French General, strangled himself with his scarf
when in prison, accused of plotting against the government.

VILLENEUVE, P., French Admiral, 1806, stabbed himself when suffering
from melancholia.

LEVY, LYON, 1810, a Jewish diamond merchant, jumped off the Monument,

WILLIAMS, 1811, the murderer of the Marr family.

KLEIST, H. VON., 1811, German author, shot himself after killing a lady
to whom he was much attached, at her request.

BERTHIER, L. A., 1815, French General.

ROMILLY, SIR S., 1818, Jurist and M.P., killed himself three days after
the death of his wife.

CHRISTOPHE, 1820, King of Hayti.

ENGLISHMAN, an, 1820, threw himself into the crater of Vesuvius.

CAMPBELL, SIR G., 1821, English Admiral.

CASTLEREAGH, LORD, 1822, cut his throat.

SAINT SIMON, C. H., 1822, a Frenchman, founder of a religious sect.

BRACHMANN, LUISE, 1822, German poetess.

MONTGOMERY, 1828, took prussic acid, when a prisoner for forgery, in

CONDÉ, PRINCE DE, 1830, hanged himself.

ROBERT LEOPOLD, 1835, painter, cut his throat, from jealousy.

GROS, BARON, 1835, painter, drowned himself from disappointment.

COLTON, C. C., 1832, an eccentric clergyman, author of “Lacon.”

MOYES, MISS E., 1839, jumped off the Monument, London, because her
father, being reduced in circumstances, it was decided that she should
earn her own living.


MUNSTER, EARL OF, 1842, son of William IV.

BLANCHARD, LAMAN, 1845, journalist.

HAYDON, B. R., 1846, painter, on account of money troubles, shot

PRASLIN, DUC DE, 1847, his wife was found murdered; he was arrested on
suspicion, and was found self-slain in prison.

WATTS, WALTER, 1850, Lessee of the Olympic Theatre.

BOURG, ST. EDME, 1851, author; found strangled by his scarf.

LAYARD, LIEUT.-COL., 1853, of “Nineveh” fame.

ROBINSON, REV. T., 1854, threw himself off the cliffs at Dover.

FRANKS, DR., 1855, editor of the _Allgemeine Zeitung_, after killing
his son.

SADLEIR, JOHN, M.P., 1856, by prussic acid, when found guilty of Bank

SMART, A., 1856, a watchmaker, threw himself down from the Whispering
Gallery in St. Paul’s.

MILLER, HUGH, 1856, geologist, from overwork.

RUSSELL, CHAS., 1856, Chairman of the Great Western Railway.

MOSER, ISAAC, 1861, a millionaire Jew.

FITZROY, ADMIRAL, 1865, meteorologist.

GREEN, G. W., 1867, a merchant, jumped off Suspension Bridge at Clifton.

WARDER, DR. A. W., 1867, at Brighton, after murdering his wife.

THEODORE, Emperor of Abyssinia, 1868.

LEE, THOMAS, 1868, threw himself from the North Tower of the Crystal

PREVOST-PARADOL, 1870, French Minister.

BOWLEY, R. K., 1870, Manager of the Crystal Palace.

MATTHIESSEN, DR., 1870, eminent chemist.

WILLES, SIR JAMES S., 1872, eminent judge, from overwork.

DELAWARR, EARL, 1873, when insane.

ABDUL AZIZ, 1876, Sultan of Turkey, veins of the bend of the arm opened
by scissors.

LYTTLETON, LORD GEORGE, 1876, eminent scholar, when insane.

BUTCHER, DR. SAM., 1876, Bishop of Meath, when insane.

BRANDON, RAPHAEL, 1877, architect.

MAHOMED, ISMAIL KHAN, 1883, an Afghan surgeon, by prussic acid.



The Literature of the subject is of very diverse character. France,
Italy, and Germany have produced many works on suicide as a fact.
England has been content with one work on suicide, that of Forbes
Winslow, “The Anatomy of Suicide,” dated 1840. “It is an interesting
collection of anecdotes, arranged without much regard to method or
authenticity.” (Athenæum.)

The thoroughly scientific statistical work of H. Morselli, of Turin,
has been recently published in an English form, but it is hardly a
readable book, consisting almost entirely of statistics; and the
subject, moreover, is treated from an Italian standpoint, and for these
reasons has not found many readers in this country.

There are, however, plenty of references to suicide in English
literature, and some essays, chiefly in its defence. Some of these I
catalogue here, and also several references from French literature. I
also add a few examples of authors of Greece and Rome who concerned
themselves with the subject. Of foreign works relating to suicide, a
list will be found in the Bibliographical Index.

Among the authors of Greek and Roman civilization, in favour of
allowing suicide to be committed, were─

ARISTIPPUS, _circa_ 360 B.C., founder of the Cyrenaic philosophy.

HEGESIAS, a Cyrenaic philosopher, _circa_ 300 B.C.

EPICURUS, d. 270 B.C., founder of the Epicurean philosophy.

ZENO, d. 264 B.C., founder of the Stoic philosophy.

CLEANTHES, d. 240 B.C., a pupil of Zeno.

CICERO, d. 43 B.C.

SENECA, d. A.D. 65.


EPICTETUS, d. _circa_ A.D. 100.

PLUTARCH, d. A.D. 140.


DIOGENES LAERTIUS, _circa_ A.D. 200.

The following famous authors denied its permissibility, and condemned
those who practised it:─


SOCRATES, d. 399 B.C.

PLATO, d. 348 B.C.

ARISTOTLE, d. 321 B.C.

ÆSCHINES, d. 314 B.C.

VIRGIL, d. 19 B.C. (See Æneid, vi. 434.)


LUCIAN, d. A.D. 180.

PLOTINUS, d. A.D. 270.

According to Morselli of Turin, the word “_suicide_” originated in
France, in the middle of the last century.

In this matter he apparently copied French authors who claim that it
was first used in the “Dictionnaire de Trevoux” (the town of Trevoux),
by Desfontaines, in 1752. It appears along with _Parricide_ in the
“Dictionnaire de l’Academie Française,” of 1762.

Richelet, in his famous French Dictionary of 1680, has, I find,
_Parricide_, but not _Suicide_.

So much for France. With regard to England, Archbishop Trench says,
“Up to the middle of the seventeenth century our good writers use
_self-homicide_, never _suicide_.” Nathan Bailey, in his English
Dictionary, 2nd ed. 1736, gives the word “_suicide_.”

But the word is much older even than that; in the introduction to
Edward Phillips’ “New World of Words,” dated 1662, these remarks are to
be found: “One barbarous word I shall produce, which is _suicide_, a
word which I had rather should be derived from _sus_, a sow, than from
the pronoun _sui_, unless there be some mystery in it; as if it were
a swinish part for a man to kill himself.” Some English Dictionaries,
such as Wright’s, give the obsolete word “_suicism_.”

“Suicidium” looks like a Latin word, but is not so, although Nathan
Bailey in the 30th edition of his Dictionary says it is; the modern
term “Suicide,” is of course derived from the Latin words “sui,” self,
and “cædo” to kill; but the ancient Romans, although familiar with the
fact, used a phrase to express it. They said, “sibi mortem consciscere”
(Cicero, Oratio pro Cluentio), “to procure his own death”; and “veneno
mortem sibi consciscere” for “to poison himself,” or “to procure death
for himself by poison.” They also used as alternative phrases “vim sibi
inferre,” “to cause violence to himself,” Velleius Paterculus; “sua
manu cadere,” Tacitus, Annales; and “mors voluntaria,” Cicero, Epistolæ
ad familiares.

The ancient Greek phrase for “suicide,” was απολακτισμος βιου,
Æschylus; “a suicide” was αυτοφονος, Æschylus; for our phrase “to
commit suicide” they used a verb αυτοκτονεω, Sophocles.

Euripides uses αυτοκτονος: in Plato is found αυτοχειρια, and also in
Euripides; two other forms of speech were εμαυτον διαχραομαι, Æschines,
and εμαυτον βιαζομαι, Plato.

The Germans use the term “Selbstmord,” the Italians “il suicidio.”

The following English Authors have either written treatises on
suicide, or else have made mention of it in their works.

The list is of course not complete, but it represents the views of many
writers of eminence from the time of Henry the Eighth to a recent date.

SIR THOMAS MORE, in his “Utopia,” dated 1516, Book II., writes: “But
yf the disease be not onelye yncurable, but also full of contynuall
payne and anguishe; ... and seinge his lyffe to him is but a tormente,
that he wyl not bee vnwillinge to dye, but rather take a good hope to
him, and either dispatche himselfe out of that payneful lyffe, as out
of a prison, or racke of torment, or elles suffer hymselfe wyllinglye
to be ridde oute of it by other.”

These lines are from the English translation by Ralph Robinson, 1551.

SHAKESPEARE (d. 1616) in “Julius Cæsar,” Act V. Scene 1., makes Brutus

    “Even by the rule of that philosophy,
    By which I did blame Cato for the death
    He gave himself:─I know not how,
    But I do find it cowardly and vile,
    For fear of what might fall, so to prevent
    The time of life:─arming myself with patience,
    To stay the providence of some high powers,
    That govern us below.”

And in “Hamlet,” Act I., Scene 2, writes:─

    “O, that this too, too solid flesh would melt,
    Thaw and resolve itself into a dew;
    Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
    His canon ’gainst self slaughter, O God! O God!
    How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
    Seem to me all the uses of this world.”

And in Act III., Scene 1, is found the long passage commencing, “To be,
or not to be; that is the question;─” in which the relative merits of
life and death are discussed.

In “Othello,” Act I., Scene 3, he makes Roderigo say, “I will
incontinently drown myself.” “It is silliness to live when to live is
a torment;” to which Iago replies, “a pox on drowning thyself! it is
clean out of the way: seek thou rather to be hanged in compassing thy
joy, than to be drowned and go without her.”

DR. JOHN DONNE, d. 1631, wrote an essay on this subject, entitled
‘βιαθανατοσ, or That self-slaying is not so naturally sin that it may
never be otherwise.

MASSINGER, the Dramatist, d. 1640.

    “This Roman resolution of self-murder
    Will not hold water at the High Tribunal
    When it comes to be argued; my good genius
    Prompts me to this consideration. He
    That kills himself t’avoid misery, fears it;
    And at the best shows a bastard valour.”

MILTON, d. 1674, says:─

    “Nor love thy life, nor hate: but what thou liv’st
    Live well; _how long or short permit to Heaven_.”

SIR THOMAS BROWNE, d. 1682, author of “Religio Medici,” wrote, “Suicide
is, not to fear death, but yet to be afraid of life.”

SIR WM. TEMPLE, d. 1699, said, “A man should depart this life when he
has no further pleasure in remaining.”

HENRY DODWELL, the learned Non-juror, d. 1711, was the author of an
“Apology for Suicide.”

ROBERT FLEMING, d. 1716, Nonconformist Minister, wrote “The command
‘thou shalt not kill’ forbids suicide as well as homicide.”

GEORGE SEWELL, d. 1726, in a poem called “The Suicide,” writes:─

    “When all the blandishments of life are gone,
    The coward shrinks to death, the brave live on.”

RICHARD SAVAGE, d. 1743. In his poem “The Wanderer” are these lines:─

    “From me (she cries), pale wretch, thy comfort claim,
    Born of despair, and Suicide my name!
    Why should thy life a moment’s pain endure?
    Here every object proffers grief a cure.
    She points where leaves of hemlock blackening shoot!
    Fear not, pluck! eat (said she) the sovereign root!
    Or leap yon rock, possess a watery grave,
    And leave thy sorrow to the wind and wave!
    Or mark─this poniard thus from misery frees!
    She wounds her breast!...”

SAMUEL RICHARDSON, in “Clarissa Harlowe,” 1749: “To be cut off by the
sword of injured friendship is the most dreadful of all deaths, next to

EDWARD YOUNG, d. 1765, in his “Night Thoughts,” Night V., The Relapse:

    “The bad on each punctilious pique of pride,
    Or gloom of humour, would give rage the rein;
    Bound o’er the barrier, rush into the dark,
    And mar the schemes of Providence below.

           *       *       *       *       *

    O Britain, infamous for suicide!”

DR. JOHNSON, in 1773, was asked: “Suppose that a man is sure that,
if he lives a few days longer, he shall be detected in a fraud, the
consequence of which will be utter disgrace and expulsion from society,
should he make away with himself?” and he answered, “Then, let him go
abroad to a distant country, let him go to some place where he is _not_
known. Don’t let him go to the Devil, where he _is_ known.”

HUME, DAVID, d. 1776, the historian, was unable to condemn the
practice, and indeed wrote an “Essay on Suicide,” showing that it was
consistent with our duty.

BLACKSTONE, d. 1780, “Commentaries,” Book IV., cap. 14: “The suicide is
guilty of a double offence: one spiritual in evading the prerogative
of the Almighty; the other temporal, against the king, who hath an
interest in the preservation of his subjects.”

DRYDEN, d. 1700, writes:

    “Brutus and Cato might discharge their souls,
    And give them furloughs for another world;
    But we like sentries, are obliged to stand
    In starless nights, and wait th’appointed hour.”

And in his Fables speaks of Suicide in terms of abhorrence:

    “The slayer of himself too, saw I there:
    The gore, congealed, was clotted in his hair.
    With eyes half closed, and mouth wide ope, he lay,
    And grim as when he breathed his sullen soul away.”

GIBBON, EDW., the historian, d. 1794, was in favour of its
permissibility under certain circumstances.

MASON, WILLIAM, d. 1797, writes:

    “Unlicensed to eternity! Think! think!
    And let the thought restrain thy impious hand.”

PALEY, REV. WM., d. 1805, the great Biblical scholar, discusses the
question of Suicide. He concludes that its commission argues against
our reverence for the Deity, exhibits a want of religious fortitude,
and a deficiency of regard for our future state.

TOM PAINE, d. 1809, in his “Age of Reason,” approves of Suicide, and
more than one case has been traced directly to the mental and moral
effect of reading this work.

LORD BYRON, d. 1824, in his “Don Juan,” c. xiv., v. 4, writes:

    “A sleep without dreams after a rough day
    Of toil, is what we covet most; and yet
    How clay shrinks back from mere quiescent clay!
    The very Suicide that pays his debt
    At once without instalments (an old way
    Of paying debts, which creditors regret),
    Lets out impatiently his rushing breath,
    Less from disgust of life, than dread of death.”

SIR CHAS. MORGAN writes: “What poetical suicides and sublime despair
might have been prevented by a timely dose of blue pill, or the offer
of a Loge aux Italiens!”

COLTON, d. 1832, in his “Lacon,” writes: “Suicide sometimes proceeds
from cowardice, but not always; for cowardice sometimes prevents it:
since as many live because they are afraid to die, as die because they
are afraid to live.”

It has been affirmed that the works of ROBERT OWEN, of Lanark, d. 1858,
manufacturer and social economist, who was author of several visionary
schemes for the mutual advancement of men, have, like those of Tom
Paine, led to the commission of self-destruction.

     . . . . .?
    “We are the fools of time and terror: Days
    Steal on us, and steal from us, yet we live
    Loathing our life, and dreading still to die
    In all the days of this detested yoke─
    This vital weight upon the struggling heart,
    Which sinks with sorrow, or beats quick with pain,
    Or joy that ends in agony, or faintness─
    In all the days of past and future, for
    In life there is no present, we can number
    How few,─how less than few, wherein the soul
    Forbears to pant for death, and yet draws back
    As from a stream in winter, though the chill
    Be but a moment’s....”

DR. HENRY MAUDSLEY writes: “Any poor creature from the gutter can put
an end to himself; there is no nobility in the act, and no great amount
of courage required for it. It is a deed rather of cowardice shirking
duty, generated in a monstrous feeling of self, and accomplished in
the most sinful, because wicked ignorance. Even if the act of Cato did
not speak for itself, he was far too self-conscious. Montaigne tells
us that he was given to drinking, and the Catos, as a race, were noted
for rigid severity of character, which mostly signifies narrowness of
vision, self-love, and conceit.”


DESFONTAINES, in the Supplement du Dictionnaire de Trevoux, 1752, first
uses the term “Suicide” in French Literature.

DUVERGER DE HAURANE, Abbot of St. Cyran, the patriarch of the
Jansenists, wrote in 1608, a treatise on Suicide, speaking of it as
equally permissible with the right of fellow men to execute judicially:
he adds, “A man may kill himself for the good of his prince, for that
of his country, or for that of his relations.”

MAUPERTUIS, PIERRE DE, approved of its commission when life becomes
wearisome. See “Œuvres,” 1752.

MONTAIGNE, MICHEL DE, “Essays:” these have much information of an
historical character. See Lib. II. cap. iii., “The Custom of the Isle
of Ceos,” also many references to the death of Cato.

MONTESQUIEU, who, in his “Lettres Persanes,” written in the character
of a Persian gentleman resident in Europe, speaks of Suicide with
favour, yet does not mention it by this title; in the 74th letter
he gives a complete apology for it. See also his “Esprit des Lois”
for other remarks on the crime. To this author is due the credit or
discredit of the observation that England is the classic land of

VOLTAIRE, in his “Commentaire sur L’esprit des Lois,” approves of
suicide, and does make use of this term; but in others of his works
he condemns it; in short, he appears to have been undecided in the
matter. It is narrated of him, that he and a friend contemplated and
decided one evening on committing the act, but Voltaire had altered his
mind in the morning.

MADAME DE STAEL, in her youth, wrote an Essay approving of Suicide;
but, later in her life, wrote “Reflexions sur le Suicide,” 1813, in
which she recanted many of her opinions. She remarks that some suicides
are a matter of duty; such are the deaths in a forlorn hope on the
battle field; others were honourable as those of Cato, Decius, Codrus,
and Regulus. Again, she says, “to prefer death to guilt is a suicide of
duty, and such were all martyrdoms.” She discards the doctrine that the
suicide is a coward; he is a man who has conquered even “the fear of

ROUSSEAU, J. J., wished that it were permissible; He called it,
however, “un vol fait au genre humain.” See Nouvelle Heloise. He is
said by some authorities to have caused his own death by taking arsenic.

LAMARTINE condemns the practice (see his remarks on the death of Cato)
in the “Cours de Litterature.”

ELIAS REGNAULT says, “It is for man the highest expression of his

FALRET, J. P., “C’est un acte de délire.”

RIVAROL, ANTOINE, “L’orgueil est toujours plus près du suicide que du

CHATEAUBRIAND, FRANÇOIS A., “Les suicides sont toujours communs chez
les peuples corrompus.”

LA LUZERNE, C. GUILLAUME, “La religion enleve au suicide l’excuse, le
prétexte, la sécurité, que lui donne l’incredulité.”

TAINE, H. “Quand la douleur est extrême l’homme se réfugie, dans tous
les asiles, jusque dans le suicide, jusque dans la folie.”

SAINTE BEUVE, the poet, wrote, under the pseudonym of Joseph Delorme,
an apology for suicide, in verse.

PRUDHOMME, “La communauté aboutit par toutes ses voies au Suicide;” and
again, “Le suicide est une banqueroute frauduleuse.”

L’ABBE BAUTAIN, “Le suicide est à la fois une grande absurdité, et un
grand crime.”

GIRARDIN, E. DE, “Bonaparte a declaré que tout soldat qui se tue, est
un soldat qui déserte.”

I venture to add here three other French references to the word:

PRUDHOMME, “La proprieté est le _Suicide_ de la Société.”

BALZAC, “Qu’un homme batte sa maîtresse c’est une blessure mais sa
femme c’est un _Suicide_.”

MARTIN, A., “Le celibat est en même temps le véhicule de la débauche,
le scandale du monde, et le _suicide_ du genre humain.”

ST. MARC GIRARDIN. “Le suicide n’est pas la maladie des simples de cœur
et d’esprit, c’est la maladie des raffinés et des philosophes.”

GOETHE, JOHANN W. VON., in his novel “The Sorrows of Werter,” exalts
suicide, as the end of one’s existence. The suicide of a young man
named Jerusalem suggested to the author the composition of this
work, which has been definitely the cause of suicides, among whom
was Fraulein von Lassberg, who drowned herself. The author himself
attempted the act.

FOSCOLO, UGO, d. 1827, the Italian poet, imitated Goethe’s “Werter” in
his “Ultime lettre di Jacopo Ortis,” and in a similar strain discourses
on the unpleasantness of life, and the advantages of ending it when

BECCARIA, C. BONESANA, in his “Crimes and Punishments,” written in
Italian, but which has been translated into almost all European
languages, decides in these words; “Suicide is a crime which seems not
to admit of punishment, for it cannot be inflicted but on the innocent,
when it would be unjust, or upon an insensible body, when it would have
no more effect than scourging a statue. Its only punishment is after
death; it is in the hands of God alone; but it is no crime with regard
to man.” See Chapter XXXII.

MORSELLI, ENRICO. “Il Suicidio.” Of this great statistical work, and
the opinions expressed therein, Legoyt, A., in his treatise, remarks,
“he maintains a certain tolerance of Suicide, and is well content
to look on it as a natural fact, governed by a law of human nature,
_precisely_ similar to the laws of Marriages, Births, and Deaths.” See
“Le Suicide,” 1881, p. 98.



By English law Suicide is of the Felony of Murder, inasmuch as it is
the murder of one of the subjects of the sovereign: it is a murder
committed by a man on himself. There is authority for saying that there
is no such offence as self-manslaughter. Regina _v._ Burgess, Leigh and
Cave, 258. It is suicide, or “felo-de-se,” not only to kill oneself
with deliberation, when in right mind, and of years of discretion, but
also to kill oneself accidentally when performing a felonious act; such
as attempting to kill another. But if a man is killed at his express
desire by another, it is not suicide, because in law the request is
illegal and void, though the latter is a murderer. Yet if one persuade
another to kill himself, and he does so, it is suicide, and also murder
in the adviser: see R. _v._ Dyson.

So also if two persons agree to commit suicide together, and one
succeed and one fail, the survivor is guilty of murder, for aiding and
abetting a suicide. See R. _v._ Russell, and R. _v._ Alison.

To constitute felo-de-se, the deceased must die within a year and a day
of his self-inflicted injury, and must have been in his right mind, yet
in the interval he cannot in law purge his offence by repentance. See
1 Hale, P.C., 412. Persons obviously insane frequently kill themselves,
yet it cannot be denied that persons are frequently found self-slain,
who have never shown any sign of mental derangement.

To avoid a verdict of felo-de-se, it should be shown by the evidence
that the deceased had not arrived at years of discretion, or else was
suffering from unsoundness of mind; in the adult the consent of the
will to a self-inflicted action should not be denied until disproved.

The argument by which jurors are supposed to be influenced, viz., that
no one in his senses would commit that which is the very negation of a
law of nature is, in fact, an aggravation of the offence. If tenable
it would excuse every criminal from blame, and would apply the more
powerfully in proportion to the intensity of the crime.

To murder a mother, or a daughter, is as much repugnant to a sensible
man, as to murder himself; but if none but lunatics could commit such
crimes, no one would be culpable at all.

And, therefore, by the law of our land, if a lunatic even murder
himself in a lucid interval, he is felo-de-se, as much as any man, and
if he murder another man in a lucid interval he is as much a murderer
as any other man. See 1 Hawkins, P.C., cap. ix., ss. 2 and 3.

At the present time, the absence of a sound mind in cases of self
murder, is the constant presumption of jurymen, who by avoiding a
verdict of felo-de-se, commit an amiable perjury, to save, as they
say, the reputation of the deceased among his survivors.

Now at one time the English law prescribed for the suicide an
inglorious burial in the highway, with a stake driven through the body;
and the vicarious punishment of his friends by the forfeiture of his
goods and chattels to the Crown.

No definite legal authority can be given for this form of burial;
Blackstone does not mention it.

It was abolished in 1823 by 4 George IV., c. 52; by this statute no
Coroner should issue a warrant for the burial of a suicide in any
highway, but it was enacted that the corpse should be buried privately
in any churchyard or burying ground between 9 and 12 at night without
any religious rites.

This enactment has been further amended by Acts 43 and 44 Victoria c.
41, and 45 and 46 Victoria, c. 19 (1882), which provide that the body
of a suicide may be buried either silently, or with any such orderly,
or Christian religious service at the grave, as the person in charge of
the body thinks fit, or I would add, can procure.

There is of course no clause compelling any minister of religion to
perform any definite burial service.

But I have no doubt that in such cases there would be no difficulty
in finding some clergyman to use forms of prayer at the grave, which
would be satisfactory to the relatives. The law was formerly evaded
as follows: if it seemed likely that a verdict of felo-de-se would be
found, the inquiry was adjourned, and in the meantime the body was
buried under a warrant from the Coroner.

In the time of the legal author Bracton (1260), a person committing
suicide to avoid conviction for a felony, forfeited his lands and
goods; other suicides forfeited their goods only.

This distinction was lost sight of in the time of Staundforde, who
wrote in 1570.

The law of forfeitures in other respects remained the same until 1870,
when forfeitures for felony were abolished by 33 and 34 Victoria, c. 23.

Whilst such disabilities existed, it was perhaps a kindness of juries
to misrepresent the manner of death, and to find that all suicides were
of unsound mind; but now that these disabilities, both of forfeitures,
and usages of contempt to the corpse, have been taken away, there
does not seem to be any necessity to refrain from finding a verdict
“according to the evidence,” which a Coroner’s jury is sworn to do; at
least, more accurately, a Coroner’s jury is sworn to give a verdict
“according to the evidence, and the best of their knowledge and
belief,” thus giving a greater freedom in investigation than is given
to jurymen in a criminal court.

STEVENSON, in Taylor’s “Medical Jurisprudence,” remarks, “It is to be
hoped that these recent enactments of the Burial Laws will do away with
many absurd verdicts of ‘Temporary Insanity;’” and Chitty, J., 1834,
adds, “If juries were more often to find verdicts subjecting parties
to some ignominy, in cases where there is no pretence of insanity, the
apprehension of such a result would tend to prevent the frequency of
the act.” (Med. Jurisprudence, cap. ix. sec. v.)

There are still some authorities who think that evidence of insanity
could be found in all cases, if only sufficiently investigated. See
“Journal of Mental Science,” April 1861. I feel bound to say this is to
me only an amiable fallacy.

Several cases have come under my personal notice where deliberate
suicide has been committed by persons of the clearest intellect, who
have never shown any one symptom of mind failure, who were not even
eccentric, and yet who chose to sacrifice their life in this world and
risk their eternal future, just to avoid a passing annoyance. Such a
choice may show, if you like, a weakness of mind, but is not what our
Text Books teach us to understand by the expression Lunacy.

Gibbon, “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” c. 14, remarks,
“Whenever an offence inspires less horror than the punishment awarded
to it, the rigour of penal law is obliged to give way to the _common_
feelings of mankind.” Jeremy Bentham remarks that jurors do not
hesitate to violate their oaths, and so meet the interference of law,
by finding suicides to be “non compos.”

The frequency with which Coroners’ juries return a verdict of “Suicide
whilst in a state of temporary insanity,” is less a proof of the
connection between suicide and lunacy, than a sign of the futility of
the existing laws relating to the crime of felo-de-se.

The commission of suicide does, no doubt, raise the question of
insanity, but in such cases the issue should be tried, not decided
offhand. The reports of the following criminal trials may be consulted
for further information on the subject of the association of suicide
with crime.

In Regina _v._ Gathercole, 1839, the prisoner attempted to drown
himself; another man jumped into the water to save him, but lost his
own life in the attempt; G. was convicted of Murder.

In Regina _v._ Fisher, 1865, a man and wife agreed to die together;
both took opium; the wife died, the man by vomiting was saved; he was
convicted of murder, although he had once been in an asylum.

In Regina _v._ May, 1872, a young man who had aided a youth to kill
himself was tried for the crime, and the same ruling was laid down by
the judge, that to aid or abet is murder.

In Regina _v._ Dyson (Russell and Ryan, Criminal Cases), two persons
agreed to kill themselves together; one survived, and was held to be
guilty of murder.

The true doctrine of the English criminal law would be perhaps, as
follows: If suicide affords any presumption of insanity, it is of
insanity at the moment only, and even then, if not supported by other
evidence, it is not enough to deprive the person of imputability. See
McAdam _v._ Walker, 1 Dow, Parly. Cases, 187. Felo-de-se is a crime,
and a person is innocent until found guilty.

SIR JAMES FITZJAMES STEPHEN writes: “Suicide may be wicked, and is
certainly injurious to society, but it is so in a much less degree
than murder. The injury to the person killed we cannot estimate; the
injury to survivors is generally small. It is a crime which produces no
(public) alarm, and which cannot be repeated.”

“It would therefore be better to cease to regard it as a crime, and to
provide that any one who attempted to kill himself, or who assisted any
other person to do so, should be liable to secondary punishment.”

Whether it be true that the injury to survivors is generally small is,
perhaps, open to question; especially in cases where the suicide is
the sole means for the maintenance of others, a wife and family, for
instance; in such a case, if suicide be not a crime, it is at least a
cowardly neglect of duty.

The modern French view of the disabilities of suicide is shown by M. J.
Tissot, in Le Droit Penal, 1860, vol. 2, p. 48; he discusses the aspect
from which suicide should be viewed by law: “the penalties should be
fixed with regard to justice, decency, and custom; they would not
fulfil the first condition if they injured innocent survivors, nor the
second if they tended to dishonour humanity by ill-treatment of the

“It should suffice to refuse an honourable funeral, the customary
burial ceremonies; this punishment would be privative only. The citizen
who flees his country is not honoured in his departure.” And in “La
Manie du Suicide,” he says, “the funeral should be private, as if
society, religion, and family, were blushing at the disgrace.”

For ancient French laws on Suicide, see Laverdy, Code Penal, cxi., &c.

In the GERMAN Strafgesetzbuch, article 216, we find, “If a person
is induced to kill another by the express and serious request of the
person killed, he shall be imprisoned for not less than three years,
and not more than five years.”

No mention is made of suicide proper, in old German codes.

In the BAVARIAN and SAXON Codes suicide is not mentioned: but up to
1871, it was the Saxon law that the bodies of suicides should be sent
to the schools of anatomy for dissection.

In the AUSTRIAN Code, there is a proviso that the suicide shall be
buried by certain officials, but not in a churchyard.

The PRUSSIAN Code forbids any injury to the corpse; there are to be no
marks of respect at the funeral; if the suicide be committed to avoid
punishment, the executioner is to bury the body.

The FRENCH Law is very remarkable; M. Hélie states it thus: “La loi n’a
point incriminé le suicide. Le fait de complicité est il punissable? La
negative est evidente.”

In the UNITED STATES suicide has never been a crime against statute
law, nor have there ever been any burial barbarities in cases of
suicide; but any one accessory to a suicide is guilty of murder as a

The ENGLISH DRAFT PENAL Code proposed to make the abetment of suicide
a special offence, subject to penal servitude for life, as a maximum

The attempt to commit suicide was to be punished by two years’
imprisonment with hard labour.



The civil branch of the jurisprudence of our subject is more complex
than the criminal. Life assurance companies naturally object to have to
pay sums of money for suicidal deaths, when these are proved to have
occurred in persons who have never shown any mental derangement, and
who may have had reasons for providing a considerable sum of money for
their families, even at the expense of forfeiting their own further
concern in this world. Such fraudulent suicides have taken place, just
as some men have not hesitated to risk being judicially executed for
murder, committed to obtain sums of money and other valuables.

Our English Judges have, unfortunately, not been unanimous in their
decisions respecting the forfeiture of insurances by voluntary death;
and the assurance companies have further complicated the matter by
the insertion of peculiar clauses in their policies, and by using
alternative phrases, meaning suicide, which the law courts have held to
infer different notions.

It has always been the custom to insert in policies of life assurance
the proviso that the death of the assured by suicide should render the
policy void. This was understood to mean that felo-de-se voided the

But it became the constant practice of Coroner’s juries to find that
persons who had been proved to have destroyed themselves were suffering
from “temporary insanity”: they thus avoided a verdict of felo-de-se;
hence arose the necessity of an understanding whether or not “Suicide
whilst insane” did or did not vitiate a policy. In equity, of course,
such a death should not do so, because the death occurs without the
voluntary determination of a healthy mind, and no one can contract
himself out of the possibility of some day losing his reason.

The difficulty might never have arisen, but for this unfortunate
straining of the word insanity to cover all cases of suicide.

On the Continent, in many States, this injudicious mode of regarding
suicides does not exist; when madmen kill themselves, their madness is
registered; and when persons whom no one has ever noticed to be unable
to manage their affairs, and whose mental state has not been disturbed,
until they have preferred death to life, on account of some loss or
annoyance, their voluntary deaths are registered as such. In those
states unseemly squabbles between assurance companies and executors are
quite rare.

To dispute and refuse payment, however, was found by the companies not
altogether a profitable business, because such cases gave rise to much
discussion and more misrepresentation, and the litigating company was
apt to be avoided by persons about to choose a company to insure with.

Several cases which appeared to be attempts at fraud have been the
subject of investigation in courts of law. See reports of the suits of
Borrodaile _v._ Hunter, 1841; Schwabe _v._ Clift, 1845; Isett _v._ The
American Insurance Company; and The St. Louis Insurance Company _v._

In the first case, a clergyman jumped off Vauxhall Bridge into the
Thames and was drowned; in his case the policy stated that it should
be avoided if the assured should “die by his own hands.” At the trial,
Erskine, J., told the jury the policy must be void if the deceased
jumped into the water, intending to kill himself, and knowing that
this action would kill him; he also left it to them to say whether
the deceased could, at the time of his death, distinguish right from
wrong. The jury became confused, for they found that the deceased threw
himself off with _intent_ to destroy himself, and also that he was
not capable of deciding right from wrong. The verdict was entered for
the defendants, that is, that deceased was felo-de-se. On Appeal, the
case was argued before four judges in 1843; they, however, differed in
opinion; three judges held that it was felo-de-se, and one that the
assured was temporarily insane, and that his death was due to an insane
uncontrollable impulse.

This matter in dispute arose again in 1845 in the case of Schwabe
_v._ Clift; the deceased drank sulphuric acid, and died, when clearly
insane. The jury returned a verdict of death during insanity, intending
thereby to say that the policy should not be void. In this policy
the term used was “suicide,” and the judge, Cresswell, held that
this word meant felo-de-se. On appeal, this judgment was reversed,
the judges again differing; the majority held that the clause meant
“intentionally killing himself,” whether in a reasonable state of mind
or not; the minority were of opinion that disease of the senses, or
the reason, leading to suicide, was not intentional death, nor such as
ought to cause a forfeiture.

This decision of the judges was of great importance, and led the
companies to alter the wording of their policies, for under the old
system any one who in an attack of delirium during a fever, or after an
accident, should jump out of a window and kill himself, would thereby
forfeit his policy; the public could not put up with this dictum, which
if law, is not the equity of the case.

Some companies inserted clauses which provided for compromises of such
claims; others definitely stated that any voluntary death should avoid
a policy, but reserved to themselves the right to return a part of the
policy value, calculated up to the day of death.

At the present time, however, policies, which in theory are avoided by
suicide, are almost always practically paid by the companies, in full,
or nearly so, unless there be any reason to suspect the existence of a
fraudulent intention on the part of the assured.

It may be broadly stated that now, in 1885, the companies have almost
all agreed to make assigned policies indisputable.

The following axioms will be found of great value:─

 When the assured, being himself beneficially interested in the
 assurance, dies a felo-de-se, public policy requires that the contract
 be rendered void. And the same holds good of those who claim under
 the assured, should he have assigned it, whether for valuable
 consideration or not. Bunyon, p. 74.

 But when the assured is but the nominee of the assurer, and has no
 beneficial interest in the insurance, neither equity nor public policy
 require the insurance to be avoided; still, this point has not been
 judicially fixed. Pope, p. 351.

 When the suicide is insane, the policy is not avoided, unless by
 special condition of the policy. See Horn _v._ Anglo-Australian Ass.

 A condition may be inserted that if the policy be assigned to a third
 person, and in favour of that assignee or those claiming under him,
 such shall not be void; and the Courts have decided that the insuring
 company may be the assignee. See White _v._ Brit. Emp. Ass. Co. 7
 L. R. Equity, 394.

 If a condition were inserted that the policy should not lapse, even if
 the assured killed himself when of sound mind, and when beneficially
 interested, it would be void in law from public policy.

 A condition supporting the insurance, in the event of suicide during
 insanity, whether the assured were beneficially interested or not,
 would not be void in law.

 A condition, avoiding the policy in case the assured should “commit
 suicide,” “die by his own hand,” or “perish by his own hand,”
 includes all cases of voluntary death, whether the person be sane or
 insane, and whether beneficially interested or not so. See Borrodaile
 _v._ Hunter; Clift _v._ Schwabe; Dufaur _v._ The Professional Ass. Co.

For more detailed information consult Bunyon, and Pope. (See
Bibliographical Index). See also the Appendix.

I pass from life assurance to one or two other questions, which
are sometimes raised by the occurrence of suicide. The records of
English Law will furnish numerous instances in which the existence
of unsoundness of mind is not proved by the fact of subsequent

The point has mostly arisen for argument in cases where it is desired
to set aside a marriage, on the ground that suicide quickly following
matrimony is evidence that there has been an absence of a sound mind,
able to make a marriage contract; or when suicide has immediately
followed the making of a will; in these cases also it has been argued
that the mere fact that suicide has taken place is proof of mental
disease, and conclusive reason for setting such a document aside.

Persons desirous of full information on these topics should consult the
reports of the cases here mentioned, viz.:─

McAdam _v._ Walker, 1 Dow. P.C. 148; in this suit the marriage was
upheld, although the bridegroom killed himself the same day.

Burrows _v._ Burrows, 1 Hagg. Eccles. Rep. 109. In this case the will
of the testator, who destroyed himself, was upheld, although the act
was committed only three days after signing the will.

In the suit of Chambers _v._ Queen’s Proctor, 2 Curt. 415, the will
was held to be good, although suicide was committed the day after
the signature of the will, and notwithstanding that it was proved by
evidence that the testator had suffered from delusions three days
before death.

Steed _v._ Calley, 1 Keen, 620, Regina _v._ Rumball, in 1843, and
Regina _v._ Farley, in 1844, are other instances of the existence of
insanity not being held to be proved by subsequent suicide.



It is a matter of the greatest difficulty to obtain recent statistics
of the actual numbers of suicides, either in our own country, or in the
Continental States.

Each nation has its own methods of obtaining these statistics, and its
own modes of tabulation, and those variations render it very difficult
to procure figures for comparison.

But beyond this hindrance to accuracy lies the deeper one, that
whatever may be the State under consideration, even when we have
obtained the authentic numbers supplied by Government, we may rest
assured that these numbers fall very far short of the actual totals.
In very many statistics in which scientific and medical men are
interested, they are only confronted by the difficulty of want of
accuracy of observation, but in this matter to want of accuracy is
added intentional misrepresentation.

Relations, friends, and I must add family doctors, will all frequently
combine to slur over the _self-done something_ which is the essence of
the death cause.

But, were it even possible to avoid this source of error, there are
others which also obscure our calculations; for example, of the total
number of bodies found in our rivers, lakes, and ponds, and on the
sea coast, a considerable number are never identified at all; and of
those which are identified, in a considerable number of cases more, no
evidence will be forthcoming which will be sufficient to prove by what
means the deceased got into the water.

It then becomes necessary either to provide a valueless column of
figures named “Found Drowned,” or else some official has to allot
the cases by sentiment to suicide, murder, or misadventure, at his

As a proof, if any be needed, of the necessary inaccuracy of estimates
regarding suicide totals, and the proportion which drowning bears as
a means to the other means used, I add the numbers published in a
Parliamentary paper for 1882-83 of the dead bodies found in the Thames,
in the Metropolitan district.

  In 1882 there were found   284
  In 1883   „     „    „     260
                  Together, 544 violent deaths.

Inquests were held on all these cases, and the best evidence obtainable
was produced.

  The verdicts were─

  Accidental death in                           242 cases.
  Wilful murder                                   2   „
  Suicide in                                     59   „
  Found drowned, _i.e._, no opinion offered in  241   „

And again, in a recent year, from a total of 40 corpses found in the
Regent’s Canal, in the London district, 22 were returned as “Cause of
death not known”; and of 46 corpses found in the River Lea, 19 were
also stated to have been “Found Drowned.”

The eminent authority, Brierre de Boismont, confesses, after a long
investigation of some thousand suicides, purporting to be the total
for Paris for a certain number of years, as follows: “One may then,
without any fear of being inaccurate, estimate the number of suicides
committed, as almost double the number of suicides registered.”

The following table will be found to give the latest calculations
of the actual number of suicides per million of inhabitants in the
different European States; and will shew the estimated increase or
decrease during the stated number of preceding years.

       │                  │ Number of  │ Increase │ Term
  YEAR.│     COUNTRY.     │  Suicides  │   per    │  of
       │                  │per Million.│ Million. │Years.
  1880 │Portugal          │     16     │     3    │   5
  1880 │Spain             │     19     │     2    │   5
  1883 │Ireland           │     24     │     6    │   5
  1878 │Russia and Finland│     35     │ Dec. 1·2 │   6
  1881 │Italy             │     44     │     7    │   5
  1881 │Scotland          │     48     │    11    │   5
  1880 │Holland           │     51     │Stationary│  10
  1882 │England           │     74     │     7    │  10
  1875 │Norway            │     75     │ Dec. 33  │  13
  1879 │Belgium           │     90     │    22    │   5
  1877 │Sweden            │    101     │    15    │   5
  1880 │Bavaria           │    102     │    11    │   5
  1877 │Austria           │    144     │    24    │   3
  1880 │Hanover           │    150     │    10    │   5
  1877 │Prussia           │    168     │    34    │   4
  1880 │France            │    216     │    56    │   5
  1881 │Switzerland       │    240     │    25    │   5
  1878 │Denmark           │    265     │    32    │   5
  1878 │Saxony            │    469     │   170    │   5

In an endeavour to make an accurate estimate of the suicide rate of
the various states, and the relative increase in the rates, we are met
by the further difficulty that the periods of observation vary much
in length; in Holland, for example, there was no formal collection of
numbers until 1869; on the other hand, in Sweden, the amount of suicide
has been estimated ever since 1750.

An enormous decrease may be observed in the figures relating to Norway;
it may be due to the very stringent laws relating to intoxication, and
to the regulations placed on the sale and consumption of alcoholic
drinks about twenty years ago.

The calculation of the averages of the various countries is
performed by the formula used by Professor Bodio: _x_ = 100 ×
(_a′_∕_a_-1)^{1∕_n_}: in which _a´_ = the number of suicides in the
last year: _a_ = the number of suicides in the first year of the
series: and _n_ = the number of years of observation.

The following table from Legoyt is interesting, but the data are not so
recent as in the foregoing list, and hence do not coincide:─

 TABLE showing the Difference in the Rates of Variation per cent.
 between Population and Suicide from 1865 to 1876.

             │           │   Suicide.
             │Population.│     ──
   COUNTRY.  │    ──     │ Increase per
             │Variation. │cent. on Total
             │           │   Numbers.
  England    │   14·6    │     27·1
  Austria    │    9·2    │     66·5
  Bavaria    │    5·2    │     18·4
  Belgium    │    7·0    │     64·4
  Denmark    │   12·1    │     12·2
  France     │  A loss   │     17·3
  Italy      │   10·5    │     15·1
  Norway     │    8·1    │     14·3
  Prussia    │    6·7    │     49·0
  Russia     │   11·0    │     47·0
  Saxony     │   18·8    │     58·4
  Sweden     │    7·6    │     24·0
  Switzerland│    6·5    │     63·6
  Ireland    │  A loss   │ Stationary.
  Finland    │    5·3    │ Stationary.

As a general _résumé_ of the consideration of the amount of Suicide,
it appears that the civilized States of Europe (with three exceptions)
show a gradual and uniform increase of Suicide rate; and that even
since the beginning of the century self-destruction has increased, and
still goes on increasing, more rapidly than the increase of population,
and to a greater extent than the general death-rate.

From a consideration of the general statistics of various countries
estimated annually, with regard to actual numbers and percentage of
Suicides, we conclude that like similar statistics applied to subjects
of a totally unvolitional nature, they vary from year to year and from
country to country. But the variations in the two classes, of voluntary
and involuntary incidents, do not range together constantly; in fact,
the statistics of the continental observers seem to show that, if we
class together

  Suicide             }
  Homicide            } as VOLUNTARY ACTS,
  Marriage            }
  Illegitimate Births }
  Deaths              }  as INVOLUNTARY ACTS,
  Accidental Deaths   }

and compare a period of several years in several countries, the
greatest variations occur very rarely in suicide. Suicide, then,
varies less than Illegitimate Births, Deaths and Accidental Deaths.
Births have varied the least. It is a curious fact that illegitimate
births, the general mortality, and accidental deaths, have often
offered greater variations from the average, although the human will
has no power over them, than suicide, homicide, and marriages which are
voluntary actions.

Hence it has been argued, that social actions dependent on human
volition, varying as they do proportionally from year to year, do not
differ from those observed in phenomena of a physiologic or organic
nature. For a lengthened discussion on this subject, see Morselli,
Rümelin, and Rhenisch: the former states, “The laws of social life are
not sufficiently known to enable us to attribute the variations in
suicide to one cause, such as human liberty, or free-will, different
and opposite to those natural forces on which we make births and
deaths to depend; for we have no positive grounds for giving different
interpretations to similar phenomena, merely because variations appear
in psychical facts.”─Il Suicidio.



In considering this portion of our subject we shall be assisted by
analogy, if we investigate the data of contributing causes, in a manner
similar to that which is ordinarily pursued with regard to diseases, in
textbooks of medicine.

I refer to the method of distributing these causes into two classes of
predisposing influences, and exciting or determining causes.

It will be very necessary, however, to bear in mind that the onset of
a disease is generally of a nature quite removed from the influence of
the will; while, on the other hand, suicide is voluntary, the result
of a distinct action, following a direct determination. It is the
determination which is led up to by states of predisposition, whether
they be cosmic, racial, or mental.

One large class, perhaps one-third of all suicides, are of a different
nature; these are the effect of an insane act; the predisposition is
lunacy; the determining cause is a delusion, hallucination, mania, or
epileptic nerve storm.

The group of influences which we shall consider as predisposing, must
in the case of insane suicides be considered as the predisposing
causes of the unsoundness of mind.

And, again, the causes denoted as exciting, in these pages, are also
the exciting causes of the insanity in most cases. From this point of
view, the fact of Suicide is only an incident occurring in Lunacy.

The various forms of insanity, and their influence in promoting
suicide, their treatment, and the means of avoiding the fatal act, will
be referred to, later on.

M. Casimir Broussais, in his work “Hygiène Morale,” divides the causes

A. Circumstances independent of the will.

B. Voluntary causes.

In Class A. he recounts: individual organisation, heredity, sex, age,
state of health, or disease, country, climate, seasons, historical

In Class B. he places employment, education, misery, loss of fortune,
gambling, disappointed love, jealousy, domestic troubles, calumny,
wounded self-love, failure of ambition, remorse, religious and
political fanaticism, imitation.

M. Tissot, in his treatise on our subject, proposes the following
arrangement of the causes of suicide:

 1. Remote negative causes, such are want of religion and want of

 2. Remote positive causes; either physiological, moral, or physical.

 3. Proximate physical causes.

 4. Proximate moral causes, either public or personal.

But he adds, “many of these causes act concurrently; it is indeed rare
not to find this to be the case.”

In Class 2 he places: Physiological, the power of reflection. Moral:
idleness, bad company, gambling, debauchery, theatrical plays, evil
imaginings, evil literature; and Physical: insanity, hypochondriasis,
ennui, nostalgia, alcoholism, celibacy, with such data as climate, age,
temperament, heredity.

To Class 3 he allots bodily diseases, pain, misery, privation, slavery,
loss of fortune, fear of punishment, and envy.

In Class 4, under personal, he places, offended vanity, despair,
remorse, suicide to expiate a fault, suicide to secure virtue or
personal purity or honour, impatience to obtain the future life, and
the vanity of dying for nothing. Under public causes he classes suicide
to save public honour of a government, to avenge the disgrace of one’s
country, to defend the honour of others, and suicide in despair of the
state of public affairs.

Despine, in his Natural Psychology, vol. iii., pp. 74-132, divides
Insane Suicides into four series:

 I.─Death occurs from an act proposed by the delusion of delirium; as
 if a man should jump off a high place thinking he is able to fly.

 II.─Self-destruction from Lypemania, producing a state of such
 sorrow and fear that the sentiment of attachment to life is lost.

 III.─Suicide is performed to obtain death, simply from the desire to
 die. (Suicidal Monomania.)

 IV.─The sufferer is caused by his malady to be violent and to destroy
 someone, either himself or others. (Acute Mania.)

He then proceeds to study suicides, in persons of healthy mind, “sous
l’influence d’un cerveau sain.” It is determined by passions which
arise from noble and generous sentiments, whilst homicide depends on
egotistical and perverse passions. He divides into three series the
passions determining suicide:

 I.─Those occurring during rage or violent passion, incompatible with
 free will.

 II.─In such a psychical state, that the man morally free, does not
 decide by free-will. Placed between two modes of action, imposed on
 him by circumstances; and of which one is so repugnant to his feelings
 that he takes the other which is less repugnant, viz., suicide.

 III.─In the state of moral liberty, in which the man decides on his
 action by his free will.

He then gives as causes, despair, ennui, alcoholism, religion, loss of
honour, to escape execution, misery, self-sacrifice, and stoicism.

The older authors on Suicide only viewed it from a narrative and
sentimental point of view, and it is only of late years that it has
been the object of any scientific research; but now that a study of
suicide, as a fact, has been instituted, it has fallen almost entirely
into a statistical groove, to the neglect of research into the mental
state and emotions of the unfortunate individuals who become victims.
Suicide is an individual act, and this point is in danger of being
lost sight of in a too absorbing study of general principles.

Most copious and elaborate investigations have been made into the
proportional intensity of cosmic, telluric, climatic, and racial
states, as causes of Suicide, to the neglect of the fact that men and
women are not simply automatons, and that mental and moral causes act
in different fashions on different minds more certainly than data
of temperature, geological formation, and position of the sun. Than
Morselli, no man has contributed more information on the subject of
Suicide; but he is so far led on by his devotion to figures, that
he actually assigns as a cause of suicide and as a factor in its
prevalence, the relative position of the Sun and Earth, the alternating
states of Aphelion and Perihelion!

I am under great obligation to continental observers, for in the
ensuing pages I quote frequently from their statistics, viz., from
Œttingen, Wagner, Falret, Quetelet, Brierre de Boismont, Drobisch,
Legoyt, Lisle, and from Morselli of Turin, who supplies the most recent

Among predisposing influences will be mentioned, the effects of race,
religion, education, and morality; together with those of climate, and
the geographical peculiarities of a country.

The varying proportions exhibited by the differences of age, sex, and
social condition; the effects of town as compared with country life,
and the special characteristics of the military and naval services, and
of prison life, will be described.

In respect to social life, mention will be found of the states of
celibacy, matrimony, and widowed life; and also some special reference
to suicide in childhood.

In our consideration of determining causes we shall be guided by the
scheme of tabulation in use in many continental states, because it
affords a better means of comparison between the several data, than
if any independent arrangement were suggested. This scheme divides
these final causes into three main classes, of mental diseases, bodily
diseases, and moral or immoral motives, as follows:

 A.─Mental Affections. _See special Chapter_; including Insomnia,
 Spiritualism, suicides caused by Imitation, and desire of Notoriety.

 B.─Bodily diseases; Incurable diseases; pain, Alcoholism, Morphia
 habit, and the effect of Hereditary predisposition.

 C.─Tædium vitæ, nostalgia, etc.

 D.─Violence of the passions; jealousy, anger, avarice, disappointed
 love, spite.

 E.─Effect of the Vices; libertinism, onanism, drunkenness.

 F.─Domestic trouble, and anguish of the affections; loss of relatives,
 deluded hopes, dissensions at home, want of children.

 G.─Financial losses; loss of employment, gambling, loss of law suits.

 H.─Misery, want of home and food, and fear of such want.

 I.─Fear, shame, and remorse; seduction, unmarried pregnancy, the
 haunting of a criminal’s conscience.

 J.─Despair; this class is made to include unknown causes; to which may
 be added:

 K.─Honourable motives, yet misdirecting conduct.

Beyond all the predispositions, and states of disease, as causes of a
voluntary death, follow the consideration of the less tangible, but
terribly effectual moral motives, which have been briefly tabulated.
Volumes have been, and might still be written on the disastrous
effects of ungoverned passions, and ill-regulated desires, and their
consequences, guilt and shame, remorse and terror.

Volumes also might be contributed on the allied subjects of the misery
and pain, always present with us, and near us, and which but few of
us wholly escape contact with, or sharing. In these pages we must be
content with a notice of only the most frequent of those troubles.

As before observed, the suicides of eminent men in ancient history were
usually brought about by motives more or less honourable, if mistaken,
but practically, in our times, the final causes of the act are of a
less elevated character.

If we except the case of lunatics under protection, among whom the
proportion of suicides is small, from the care with which they are
watched, and the case of those in whom insanity bursts forth suddenly,
and without any warning, the catalogue of motives given above will be
found practically almost complete.

Brierre de Boismont gives the following classification of 4,595 cases
which occurred in France, assigning the mental or moral determining

But it is obvious that these tables must be taken _cum grano salis_,
because of the impossibility of discovering in every case the true
motive, and because of the coincidence of several causes in many

  652 Lunatics, about one-seventh of all cases.
  405 Other diseases of body, incurable, or with intolerable pain.
  530 Alcoholism.
  361 Domestic troubles.
  311 Sorrow, disappointment.
  134 Remorse, and fear of the law.
  306 Disappointed love.
  237 Ennui.
  277 Reverses of fortune, and cupidity.
  282 Poverty and misery.
   55 Delirium of acute diseases.
   44 Gambling.
   43 Want of occupation.
   26 Pride and vanity; notoriety.
   56 Indolence.
  145 Hypochondriac and hysterical.
   54 Jealousy.
  121 Misconduct.
  556 Motive unknown.

Kolb, J. F., in his work on the “Condition of Nations,” gives the
following Table of Causation in respect to French Suicides; in a recent
year, 79 per cent. were males, and 21 per cent. were females.

From a total of 5,922 suicides, 1,794 were caused by mental disorders,
855 domestic troubles, 837 bodily diseases and pain, 701 alcoholism,
688 poverty and misery, 235 violence of the passions, 229 remorse, and
fear of the law, and 583 from motives unclassed.

Of 6,782 cases observed by Falret, the following proportions were
calculated by him: Caused by misery 1∕7, loss of fortune 1∕21, gambling
1∕43, love affairs 1∕19, domestic troubles 1∕9, fanaticism 1∕66,
calumny, wounded self-love, and failed ambition 1∕7, remorse 1∕27.

No attempt on a large scale has ever been made to tabulate English
cases, as to causation.

The following Table arranged by M. Lisle, has never been equalled, for
completeness, and for the large number of cases included in its scope.


                 CAUSES.                   │  Male.  │ Female. │  TOTAL.
  Misery                                   │  2,355  │    587  │  2,942
  Debts, business embarrassments           │  2,809  │    195  │  3,004
  Gambling                                 │    157  │      1  │    158
  Loss of employment                       │    237  │     26  │    263
  Loss of law-suits                        │    137  │     19  │    156
  Other losses                             │    332  │     59  │    391
  Fear of poverty                          │    264  │     55  │    319
  Reverse of fortune                       │    280  │     45  │    325
  Regret for loss of fortune               │     63  │     17  │     80
  Unrealised hope of fortune               │     53  │     12  │     65
  Nostalgia                                │     26  │      -  │     26
  Loss of children, position, &c.          │    373  │    193  │    566
  Bad conduct and ingratitude of children  │    137  │     74  │    211
  Sorrow for absent children               │     20  │     20  │     40
  Sorrow for absence from family           │     35  │     16  │     51
  Sorrow of children for ill-treatment     │    159  │     72  │    231
  Parental squabbles                       │    110  │     26  │    136
  Jealousy between members of a family     │     19  │      7  │     26
  Other domestic troubles                  │  3,355  │  1,242  │  4,597
  Disappointed love                        │    938  │    627  │  1,565
  Jealousy                                 │    229  │    118  │    347
  Pregnancy, unmarried                     │      -  │    239  │    239
  Disgust with marriage                    │     35  │     18  │     53
  Remorse                                  │    190  │     77  │    267
  Idleness                                 │     76  │      4  │     80
  Debauchery                               │  1,569  │    233  │  1,802
  Drunkenness                              │    656  │     82  │    738
  Habitual roguery                         │  2,105  │    359  │  2,464
  Disgust with social position             │     68  │      9  │     77
  Desire to avoid legal pursuit            │  1,741  │    365  │  2,106
  Desire to avoid execution of judgment    │    383  │     21  │    204
  Desire to avoid military duty            │    266  │      -  │    266
  Desire to avoid calumny                  │     37  │     27  │     64
  Desire to avoid pain                     │  3,522  │  1,165  │  4,687
  Disgust of life                          │  1,547  │    374  │  1,921
  Hypochondria                             │    640  │    211  │    851
  Disgust of military life                 │    214  │      -  │    214
  Reproaches of employers                  │    106  │     41  │    147
  Sorrow for loss of situation             │     53  │     24  │     77
  Rivalry in business                      │      8  │      -  │      8
  Insanity, general                        │  6,744  │  3,982  │ 10,726
  Insanity, partial, or monomania          │    603  │    244  │    847
  Idiocy                                   │    510  │    307  │    817
  Cerebral congestion                      │    504  │    177  │    681
  Passion                                  │     51  │     17  │     68
  Political excitement                     │     34  │      -  │     34
  Religious fears                          │     40  │     28  │     68
  Suicide after crime                      │    299  │     28  │    327
  Unknown cause                            │  5,121  │  1,354  │  6,745
                                           │ 39,302  │ 12,824  │ 52,126



The inhabitants of the majority of countries are not at the present
time so unique racially, as was probably the case at an earlier date.
Races of men have spread themselves to contiguous lands, and have
emigrated to other tracts of country; so that it is now much the
reverse of usual to find a nation composed of any one race, or even
of a very preponderating majority of one stock. The more nearly,
however, that a state is thus constituted, the more obvious appears the
fact that each race of men has a certain underlying “special rate of

This rate, I say, underlies all the variations exhibited by the various
portions of that race; which may be due to Climate, Religion, Morals,
or Education.

The idea of a real Specific Ethnic Rate of Suicide is, I believe, due
to Wagner of Berlin; and the more the subject has been examined, the
more obvious the conclusion appears.

It may be compared to that principle adopted by modern chemists, that
every elementary body has a definite specific rate of gravity; and
indeed the simile may be carried farther still, for as the chemist
by combining his elements can prepare a new body, having a different
specific gravity rate, dependent on the rates of the original elements;
so a country composed of a mixture of two races, exhibits a “Suicide
Rate” different from the special rates of the constituent races, and
intermediate between them.

Although it may not be practicable to prove these statements by a
direct appeal to figures, because no case can be produced which is
not, at any rate to some extent, complicated by considerations of a
collateral nature, but yet the more deeply the matter is investigated
the more true it will be found to appear. The statistics collected by
Wagner and by Œttingen may be consulted in this connection.

The changes of rate produced by Race mingling can be studied, not only
in countries where the process has been going on for centuries, but
also in respect to recent movements of men. When Europeans emigrate,
they are found to carry with them to their new home their peculiarities
in regard to Suicide: the several races of Germans have a high rate
at home, and on examination of the records of a country peopled by
emigration, of New York, for instance, we find that the Germans there
kill themselves more often than the Anglo-Saxon element, which has
in its home a low suicide rate. During the year 1883, in New York
there were 151 cases, of these no less than 70 were Germans; now the
proportion of Germans in New York is certainly not seven-fifteenths of
the population.

The Negro races in their original homes shew an avoidance of voluntary
death, and they carry this characteristic with them into other lands:
in the United States the relative proportion between the number of
suicides, in coloured and white men, is about one to eighty.

The rate of suicide observable in a race is seen to be curiously
associated with stature; the original inhabitants of Germany were tall
and fair; these had originally a high rate, and descendants of this
race shew the same peculiarity to-day. In proportion as these fair tall
Germans infiltrate another country, just as certainly does the suicidal
total grow. Morselli states that in Italy the rate increases from south
to north, gradually, in proportion as the stature also increases, until
the German states are reached. There is, however, another tall fair
race, who have a low rate, the Slavonic; on the eastern borders of
Hungary where these immigrate, the Hungarian rates are lowered.

In Europe the highest proportion of suicide is shewn by the Germanic
races, and the two stocks, German and Scandinavian, divide the
supremacy for the maximum rate.

The ne plus ultra of German purity in race is found in Saxony, and this
kingdom has the largest suicide ratio of any country.

The height of Scandinavian purity in race is found in Denmark, and
there also the ratio is very large, enormous, in fact: in Norway the
rate was for very long also extreme, but the great severity of recent
laws with respect to offences and to drunkenness have made an almost
incredible reduction in the amount of suicide.

Our British population is of too mixed a blood to enable statistics to
show much of value; but the ratio is much smaller in the Anglo-Saxon
than in the German.

The Celtic races avoid suicide, as is seen by the low rates in Ireland
and Wales.

The races of Slavonic origin show the lowest rates, with those of
Asiatic Turanian origin, the Magyars, Finns, and Lapps.


The extremes of heat and cold seem to tend to a low rate. In Europe
the highest rates are found in the central and upper two-thirds of the
north temperate zone; the maximum being at about 50° lat.

The countries of the west and the south of Europe give the minimum

The principal suicide area of Europe is a zone lying from the north of
France to the east of Germany, with two foci, viz., the country around
and including Paris, at a rate of 330 per million of inhabitants, and
the kingdom of Saxony, at a rate of 469 per million. Compare with
these very high numbers the proportions shown by regions lying more to
the south: viz., Calabria, 9; Portugal, 16; Sardinia, 13; Spain, 19;
and Sicily, 18 per million. Leaving this central European area, and
advancing to the north, we again reach territories where lower rates
are found to prevail, although not so low as those of the Mediterranean
coast. While Scotland has a rate of 48, Ireland’s proportion is even
much less, about 24. Finland has a low rate, and so has Northern
Russia, 35 per million inhabitants.

Mountainous countries show a lower rate than lowlands; the Highlands of
Scotland and Wales give a ratio only half that of England.

In the mountain cantons of Switzerland self-destruction is almost
unheard of.

The amount of suicide varies considerably in the several counties of
England; it has in many years happened that Rutland and Westmoreland
have shown a very high rate; but this may possibly be due to their very
small size rendering the comparison unfair.

Dr. J. N. Radcliffe, some years ago now, took the pains to calculate
the rate per million for each county, from the Registrar’s returns; he
gives the following as the counties having the highest rates:─

The London area: Middlesex, 105; Kent, 97; Surrey, 95; and Sussex, 89
per million inhabitants.

The Midland area: Leicester, 89; Lincoln, 87; Nottingham, 87; Warwick,
77; and Derby, 80.

The Northern area: Westmoreland, 99; Cumberland, 86; Lancaster, 70; and
Chester, 70 per million.

Very large proportions follow the great Rivers of Europe, especially
the Po, Seine, Loire, Rhone, Oder, Rhine, Elbe, Thames, and the Scheldt
in Belgium.

On Marshes, Salt Marshes, and lands low lying and liable to floods,
the ratio is much less, as in Holland and on the Landes in France.
But we shall, I think, be justified in considering that it is not the
river that has caused the suicides, nor the marsh that has made them
few; the truth no doubt is that the marsh has rendered the people few,
and simple in habit, whilst rivers, the oldest means of locomotion,
invited settlers, and settlers made town after town, and then a city on
each river, and multitudes grew, and as some few became wealthy, the
millions became permanently in want.

Montesquieu, with whom suicide was a favourite study, called England
the “Land of Suicide,” from its fogs and damp, dark, cold climate,
but he was wrong; even at that time France had a heavier voluntary
death-rate. Over and above which our suicides cluster in preference
round our summer months, and not our foggy ones, to which fall our
heaviest ordinary death-rates.



Quite closely connected with the consideration of these influences,
are others partly dependent on them, the manners and customs of a
population, the extent of civilisation, and education, and their
religious and moral state. The manners and customs are to a great
extent peculiar to each race, while the members of each race are all
apt to take on an amount of civilisation by means of education, which
varies in a quite indefinite manner. No amount of argument or inquiry
seems, however, to invalidate the statement that a preponderant rate
of suicide, and a high rate of madness exist in countries the farthest
advanced in our modern ideas of civilization, and in education, and in
modern modes of thought.

The intensely complicated state of modern society lays ambushes for
us of myriads of dangers, difficulties, annoyances, illnesses, and
worries, which to the denizen of a savage country are entirely unknown.
That the influence of modern education is to increase the suicide-rate
is proved by statistics of many sorts; from tables of the percentage
amongst those “able to read and write,” and the reverse; from the
conscription tables of France and Italy, and from the fact that those
countries which possess the higher standard of general culture, furnish
the largest contingent of voluntary deaths, other data being equal, or
allowed for.

M. Brouc, indeed, went so far, many years ago, as to affirm that, given
the number of persons in the public schools of a country, he could
deduce the number of suicides which took place there annually.

I subjoin a comparison between the percentage of population at school
and the suicide rate in Italy, tabulated by Morselli:-

                      │  Scholars per  │  Suicides per
          ────        │    Hundred     │    Million
                      │  Inhabitants.  │  Inhabitants.
  1863-64             │      5·44      │     27·2
  1865-66             │      5·59      │     28·7
  1867-68             │      6·05      │     31·0
  1869-70             │      6·06      │     27·5
  1871-72             │      6·44      │     32
  1873-74             │      6·80      │     36·5
  1875-76             │      7·15      │     35·3
  1877                │      7·45      │     40·6

The same effect is exhibited by tables showing the relative numbers of
newspapers published in each State; the more numerous these are, the
higher the voluntary death-rate; and in States where the literature
is of the higher type, scientific and critical, we find, _mutatis
mutandis_, a higher rate than where the journals simply contain news
and politics.

Brierre de Boismont gives a classification of 4,595 French suicides, in
respect to education; a _résumé_ follows:─

            ────              │ Male.   │ Female. │  TOTAL.
  Well instructed             │    467  │    106  │    573
  Read and write well         │    601  │    188  │    789
  Read, but write ill         │  1,145  │    511  │  1,656
  Read, but do not write      │      1  │      2  │      3
  Illiterate                  │     36  │     29  │     65
  Data unknown                │    969  │    540  │  1,509

In respect to England, the Report of the Registrar General for 1880
contains a statement, which I subjoin, of the effect of education on
the proportion of voluntary deaths, calculated on the averages of the
ten years 1869-78, with regard to the numbers of adults who were able
to sign their names in the marriage registers.

    Counties where 27%    } 57·5 million of
  were unable to sign the }    inhabitants.
  register                }

    Counties where less   } 69·2 per million of
  than 27% but more       }    inhabitants.
  than 17% were unable    }

    Counties where less   } 80·2 per million of
  than 17% were unable    }    inhabitants.

But, on the other hand, the proportions of crime against the person
were the lowest on record, and the better educated counties showed the

The rule that suicide rate increases with the amount of education is
more generally observed than almost any other tendency which we have
to consider; and it is probably an accurate statement without any
reservation; however unpalatable such a dictum may be, I am not aware
of any state where the reverse holds good. The general opinion has
always been that this rule is only true when the form of education is
faulty; the pages of many authors will show the argument that secular
knowledge must be judiciously combined with religious teaching, or
else such a result may appear; but the facts seem to lead us to the
awkward dilemma, that either the religious teaching is seldom duly
administered, or else that even piety is unavailing as a deterrent.
Prophets have not been lacking for several years past, who have never
ceased to warn us that our present system of removing Christian
teaching from the necessary curriculum of our public schools, will
inevitably increase crime and suicide in the rising generation.

And I fear there can be no doubt that this coming generation will show
a higher rate, but whether the diminution of religious instruction will
be the cause, will be open to question.

Personally, and speaking with reference to the masses of the
population, I think it is likely to cause such an increase; because,
although it may be preferable for well-educated men and women to
confess to honest doubt, in preference to acquiescence in a form
of faith which they cannot heartily hold; still, in minds of less
development, for whom a thorough education is impossible, greater
stability of character is ensured by an early inculcated religious
conviction of the sanctity of life, and an idea of the duty of waiting
on Providence to guide our concerns.


It is impossible to deny that, in respect to the influence of religion
on the proportions of suicide in Europe, the maximum rate constantly
falls to Protestant States, to the Roman Catholic next, then the Greek
Church, and, lastly, the minimum falls to the Jews.

An average, estimated from a large collection of numbers by Morselli,
shows that the ratio is 58 per million in Catholic States, 190 per
million in Protestant States, and in the Greek Church 40 per million;
but the low suicide rate of the Slavonic races renders conclusions
as to the Greek Church most unreliable; but it seems to the author
that this is not an accurate deduction from the relative numbers, the
proportion allotted to Protestant countries being much too high.

Legoyt gives Catholics 62, Protestants 102, Greek Church 36, Jews 48,
and this seems an estimate more near the truth. Curiously enough,
Catholics far exceed Protestants in the statistics of total crime in
all countries.

With regard to the Jews, we are met by the difficulty of the
coincidence of race and religion, in the most marked form the world
has ever seen. The Jews are undoubtedly more liable to lunacy than
are Christians; in Bavaria, for example, there is one lunatic to 908
Catholics, 967 Protestants, and 514 Jews.

History renders it quite certain that in the days of Jewish purity, and
in the time of the kings up to the Babylonish captivity, the number
of suicides was very small. Self-destruction is not even mentioned in
the Pentateuch as a crime; it was apparently thought that the command,
“thou shall not kill,” obviously included it.

In later days the number increased; after the close of Old Testament
history, when the Jews became more mixed with other nations, it became
common. Many killed themselves in the Roman siege of Jerusalem, as
Josephus narrates; in 1521, forty Jews were imprisoned in France,
doubtless for purposes of extortion; they all killed themselves [Contes
de Guillaume de Nangis, p. 96]. And although many Jews put an end to
their existence during the times of terrible persecution of the Middle
Ages, notably 1200-1400, they have always preserved a reputation
throughout Europe for contempt of suffering, and for the avoidance of

Coming now to the present day once more, I introduce here a Table,
compiled chiefly from Italian and German sources, which shows the
comparative suicide rates, in juxtaposition to the comparative
proportions of Catholic and Protestant inhabitants; it is very
suggestive, and calls for a few words respecting the Protestant
Religion. Compare Morselli, Influenze Sociali, p. 218.

              │                        │        │ Catholics │Protestants
              │                        │Suicides│    per    │    per
     ────     │       COUNTRY.         │  per   │ Thousand  │ Thousand
              │                        │Million │    of     │    of
              │                        │        │Inhabitants│Inhabitants
             {│Spain                   │   19   │    999    │     1
   Catholic  {│Portugal                │   16   │    999    │     1
   Countries {│Italy                   │   44   │    995    │     2
             {│Belgium                 │   90   │    996    │     4
             {│France                  │  216   │    982    │    16
              │                        │        │           │
     Mixed   {│Ireland                 │   24   │    757    │    234
   Catholics {│Bavaria                 │  102   │    713    │    275
    prevail  {│Lower Alsace            │  130   │    642    │    322
             {│Baden                   │  157   │    648    │    331
              │                        │        │           │
             {│Holland, South          │   50   │    367    │    613
     Mixed   {│Prussia                 │  168   │    331    │    651
  Protestants{│Holland, North          │   54   │    278    │    663
    prevail  {│Wurtemburg              │  172   │    304    │    687
             {│Black Forest            │  160   │    259    │    736
             {│Oldenburgh              │  200   │    228    │    764
              │                        │        │           │
             {│Swiss Protestant Cantons│  279   │    68     │    922
             {│England                 │   74   │    53     │    946
  Protestant {│Hanover                 │  150   │    29     │    960
   Countries {│Saxony                  │  469   │    21     │    976
             {│Denmark                 │  265   │     1     │    999
             {│Sweden                  │  101   │     0     │   1,000
             {│Norway                  │   75   │     0     │   1,000

The Protestant Religion, more than any other, is the Religion of
Idea; Faith, Hope, and Charity, all ideals, are its aims; it refuses
all material assistance; neither image, nor cross, nor beads, is an

The Protestant is taught to educate his consciousness, and is
responsible alone for his own actions; he cannot lean on the reed of
comfort from Masses, or on the idea that a confession of his sins to a
priest absolves him from the result of them.

Protestantism tends to develop individual research into its doctrines,
self-reflection, and inward communings with one’s consciousness.

Mysterious and sublime dogma is the object of contemplation, with the
intention that such idealism shall bring forth fruit as good actions.

This system, so grand and overpowering is, it appears, liable to
derange weak minds, especially when by neglecting a due share of
taking one’s own worldly responsibilities, such aspire to be devotees,
inspired by the highest ideals, but declining to translate good
intentions into good deeds, and the active exercise of charity, and
duty to their neighbours.

The extraordinary lateral offshoots of the church, which are seen at
intervals, the various forms of Revivalism, and the proceedings of the
Salvation Army, are all to a certain extent mischievous; although they
are, no doubt, productive of some benefit to those who still remain in
gross ignorance and vice. Yet such violent temporary ebullitions of
theological activity do certainly unhinge men’s minds, and do foster
a higher suicide rate. The more permanent, but less violent, waves
of change in religious matters do more good, and at the same time
less harm; I refer to the alternating popularity of such forms as
Evangelicalism and Ritualism. Almost all sudden changes, especially in
faith and violent emotions, are harmful.

In general, as a result of the sum of religious statistics, too
numerous and voluminous for quotation here, we may generalise and
say that Catholics incline to suicide through madness, following
their vices, while Protestants fly to suicide as relief from domestic
troubles, monetary anxieties, remorse for wasted opportunities, and
regret for the absence of hoped for results; they are also more liable
than Catholics to suicide following religious mania.

Extravagances in religion are sometimes a symptom of madness; at
others, extravagances in religion lead to madness in enfeebled minds.


The morals of a state cannot fail to have a deep and lasting effect
on the amount of crime and madness, and hence on the suicide rate.
But it is by no means easy to prove by statistics the actual rate of
influence; the social customs and modes of life are so very various,
and the different laws of each state with regard to moral sins are so
different. At the same time it cannot be denied that several important
nations, among whom the virtues of social family life are specially
studied, have a very high suicide rate, such as the Germans and Danes.

The average of suicide is found generally to run hand in hand with that
of the ratio of total crime. Crime has increased for many years in all
European countries except Britain and Holland. Suicide has increased
in all except Norway and Russia, and but slightly in England and the
Netherlands. Where there is an average annual increase of suicide,
there is almost always seen a synchronous increase of crime.─Morselli.
Still some countries with very small suicide rate have a very large
proportion of crime, as Spain and Italy, which have an average of one
convict to 8,130 inhabitants; while Denmark has one convict to 110,474
inhabitants, and England has one convict to 132,791 inhabitants.

It has been found that in respect to the departments of France, the
maximum of homicides occurred in connection with the minimum of

Also in Italy, in those districts where crimes against property
predominate, suicides are more frequent than in those divisions where
crimes of blood are frequent.─Morselli.

Parent Du Chatélet remarks that the suicide rate of prostitutes is very
low. Brierre de Boismont estimates the proportion supplied in Paris by
registered fallen women as 1-240 of all cases. This author also states,
of his series of French cases, that 40 per cent. were persons who led
bad moral lives, either drunkards, gamblers, thieves, prostitutes, or
persons living in adultery.

The proportion which falls to those who are in health, and lead regular
lives, is very small; whilst those who begin life in health, and
pander to their vices and appetites, abandon themselves, as statistics
definitely show, to a prospect of poverty, disease, and crime; to the
prison, the asylum, the hospital, and to a suicide’s grave.

And it is not only open vice that lowers the tone a man may even keep
all the conventional rules of morality, and yet fall in this manner,
if he neglect and ignore a cheerful acquiescence in those high moral
aspirations, which alone make the idea of a self-sought death an evil
to which nothing on this side of the grave can compare.

There need not be any difficulty in understanding that lack of moral
training, and imperfect and improper education, foster suicide; for it
is obvious that men will be more prone to sin, if they have had their
consciences weakened by bad advice, loose habits, and the companionship
of persons who take a light view of wickedness, and only sneer at
self-improvement and goodness.

A system of “laisser aller,” and “don’t care,” are stepping stones to
suicide; self-restraint and active efforts after perfection lead one
daily farther from it.

Aristotle, in the “Ethics,” Lib. 3, cap. 7, and Plato, in his “Phædo,”
remark that “Suicide is committed to avoid evil, and not because it is

The suicide judges that the possible evil after death is less than the
trouble he has now to bear; hence it is clear enough that the best
preventive is to fix on the crime the character of an evil much greater
than any that can happen to a man naturally.

Although it has been shewn that the spread of education is followed
by an increased amount of self-destruction, yet, if a large number of
suicides be analysed, the ratio of one-fifth only are well educated;
but then it must be remembered that only a small fraction of the
population is educated at all thoroughly. It is the spread of an
unsound system of partial education, the tasting of the Pierian spring
without drinking deeply, which poisons the mind; mere fragmentary,
rudimentary instruction unballasted by the requisite amount of moral
and religious teaching. The mere ability to read is, I think, liable
to become a great curse unless most carefully used, for it is only
too common to find that those who can only read, only read what
they had much better have left unread; such as sensational tales,
the criminal trials in the daily papers, political squabbles, and
narratives of suicides. There could be no stronger prompting influence
and determining cause of voluntary death to many an ailing and tempted
sufferer than the perusal of such literature.

In “Aurora Floyd” and “Lady Audley’s Secret,” two novels of high
standing, suicide is suggested definitely as a remedy for trouble, at
least twelve times.

Ch. Elam writes, “The great publicity given to the minutiæ of
atrocious crimes in the public press is undoubtedly a fruitful source
of crime. Dove, who poisoned his wife, confessed, after his conviction,
that the idea had been given to him by study of the case of Palmer, at



The suicide rate of any great city is found to be higher than the rate
of the rural district around it, and this statement is true of every
country. Many causes contribute to this increased rate, besides the
mere density of population, which however may be considered to have of
itself an influence to make suicide more frequent.

Statistics do not shew that the proportion increases with the total
population of the urban district; in London, for example, although the
total population is so much greater than that of Brussels, yet the
suicide rate is much lower.

Urban life only tends to exaggerate the general inclination of a
people; as Morselli puts it,─“the suicide rate is high in the rural
districts when it is so in the towns; in the latter, on the contrary,
it becomes lower in proportion to the general average.”

Town life is powerful to modify the human will, and the feelings and
acts of mankind, but it will not neutralise all the other social and
individual influences.

The most important difficulty in making correct estimates of the
suicide rates of cities, is the uncertainty as to where the line
should be drawn to separate the town from the country; for it is
obvious that if these have different rates, the proportion for the town
may be rendered high or low accordingly, whether the line be drawn
through the suburbs, or beyond the farthest of them. Cities more than
villages contain the two extreme states of riches and poverty, both of
which tend to a voluntary death: in cities the struggle for existence
is much sharper than it is amid the scattered population of villages,
and together with this point is the collateral one of mental strain and
excitement existing when not required for merely procuring a living.

The ratio of suicides in several cities, calculated in the year 1883,
is here given, with reference to a million of inhabitants:─Paris, 402;
Copenhagen, 302; Stockholm, 354; Naples, 34; Rome, 74; London, 87;
Vienna, 287; Brussels, 271; Berlin, 170; St. Petersburgh, 206; and New
York, 144.

In London, Buckle tells us, there has always been a higher rate than in
the rest of England. During─

  1846-50 they were 107 per million } England, 66
  1856-61      „    100       „     }   „      65
  1861-70      „     88       „     }   „      66
  1872-76      „     86       „     }   „      69

These figures show about one-third more suicide in London than the
country. The same proportion holds good at the present time.

The Middlesex portion of London has always had a higher percentage than
either the Kent or Surrey portions.

In Berlin the suicide rate was stationary in 1860-1872; indeed,
decreasing in 1870-1872, but a large rate compared to the country
around; in 1860 the relative numbers were 160 for the city to 100 in
the country.

Legoyt calculates the suicide rate of the United States as 32 per
million; and New York City, for the year 1876, as 142 per million.


With regard to the business of one’s life, it has been noticed that
professions and trades, which by habits, physical and mental, bring
women near to men, often tend to raise in an extraordinary degree the
inclination of women to kill themselves.

It is a matter of the greatest difficulty to procure statistics
sufficiently reliable of the numbers of each profession and trade, to
couple with the numbers of known suicides of each trade and profession,
for the purpose of obtaining a “professional suicide rate.”

Italian statistics show that the rates are higher in those trades which
are concerned with luxuries, and lower in those whose products command
a more regular market, such as are necessaries.

Goldsmiths, jewellers, makers of arms, scientific instruments, toilet
necessaries, musical instruments, &c., give a higher rate than that of
builders, weavers, spinners, tailors, glovers, &c.

Nuns, convent maids, and lay sisters, all numerous classes in Italy,
give very few suicides.

In the higher walks of education the rates are all higher. Men of
science, doctors, lawyers, military men, and the governing officials,
all are very prone to self-destruction.

In those counties of France where there is the greatest attention paid
to trade, agriculture, and commerce, the suicide rate is the highest;
in counties where the development of business is slight the rate is

And, further, it is almost universally true that the states that have
most perfect railway systems are those which have the largest average
of suicide.

Now, all countries having a largely developed trade are liable to
commercial depressions; these are constantly followed by waves of
increased lunacy and more numerous suicides; and note that these
effects follow not immediately on a crisis, but after a little interval.

At the crisis the majority of minds are strung up to the needed effort:
it is the loosening of the tension that upsets the mental equilibrium;
the exhaustion following prolonged exertion. Similar to these
commercial waves are the effects of war, increased prices and taxation;
it was not the bad years of the Crimean War that gave the heaviest
voluntary death rate, but the two years after.

In Austria the war of 1858-9 was effectual in the increased rates of

In France suicides and lunatics were more numerous in 1872 and 1873,
not in the years of the war, 1870 and 1871.

Legoyt gives the following analysis of suicides: Middle classes and
outcasts, 596 per million; liberal professions, 218; industrial
classes, 128; tillers of the soil, 90 per million.

I subjoin a Table, borrowed from Lisle, shewing the employment in more
than 50,000 cases of suicide in France.

TABLE of 52,126 French Suicides arranged according to Occupation.

           ────                       │ Male.  │ Female.│ TOTAL.
  I.─Of SLIGHT EDUCATION:             │        │        │
        Shepherds                     │    276 │     32 │    308
        Woodcutters, charcoal burners │     54 │      6 │     60
        Agricultural labourers        │ 12,179 │  3,681 │ 15,860
        Beggars and vagabonds         │    335 │    115 │    450
        Prostitutes                   │      0 │     53 │     53
        Mechanics in Wood             │  1,729 │     72 │  1,801
         „        „ Leather           │    377 │     27 │    404
         „        „ Iron              │  1,437 │     64 │  1,501
         „        „ Cotton, Silk      │  1,339 │    463 │  1,802
         „        „ Stone             │  1,079 │     48 │  1,127
        Other mechanics               │    541 │     91 │    632
        Porters, Commissionaires      │    368 │      6 │    374
        Sailors                       │    311 │      9 │    320
        Drivers of carriages, vans    │    468 │      7 │    475
        Domestic servants             │  1,270 │  1,204 │  2,474
                                      │        │        │
  II.─Of BETTER EDUCATION:            │        │        │
        Bakers, confectioners         │    373 │     29 │    402
        Butchers                      │    265 │     24 │    289
        Furniture dealers             │    259 │     28 │    287
        Hatters                       │    102 │     21 │    123
        Shoemakers                    │    639 │     46 │    685
        Hairdressers                  │    164 │      8 │    172
        Tailors                       │    644 │    780 │  1,424
        Laundry workers               │     73 │    221 │    294
        General shopkeepers           │  1,233 │    289 │  1,522
         „      travelling dealers    │    314 │     62 │    376
        Inn-keepers                   │    741 │    159 │    900
                                      │        │        │
  III.─Of SUPERIOR EDUCATION:         │        │        │
        Wholesale dealers, bankers    │    382 │     12 │    394
        Merchants’ clerks             │    441 │     27 │    468
        Artists                       │    194 │     25 │    219
        Clerks and copyists           │    276 │      2 │    278
        Students                      │    118 │      2 │    120
        Public officials              │  1,187 │     23 │  1,210
        Professors and teachers       │    169 │     32 │    201
        Military and Navy men         │  2,826 │      4 │  2,830
        Lawyers and doctors, &c.      │    427 │     16 │    443
        Persons owning property       │  2,693 │    808 │  3,501
                                      │        │        │
  IV.─                                │        │        │
        Without business              │  1,106 │  2,012 │  3,118
        Unknown employment            │  2,741 │  2,447 │  5,188
                                      │ 39,302 │ 12,824 │ 52,126


It is an almost universal truth that the suicide rate of any state is
smaller than the rate observed in the men composing the Army and Navy
of the same country.

This point was first brought prominently into notice about twenty years
ago with respect to our English soldiers; Dr. Millar pointed out that
in 1862 the rate was 278 per million (estimated at per million), and in
1871 at 400 per million, and at the present time it is about triple the
rate for ordinary Englishmen of between 20 and 30 years of age. In the
Italian army at the present time the rate is treble that of ordinary
Italians between 20 and 30 years of age.

The suicidal tendency of an army is materially increased by foreign
service; so that in the English Army, when the number was 339 per
million at home, in India the numbers were 468. And it has been found
that there is a higher percentage among soldiers of long service; three
times the amount is found among soldiers of over 14 years’ service than
is found among those of under 3 years’ service.

Dr. Millar also observed that there were twice as many voluntary deaths
in the Cavalry as in the Infantry.

In Saxony the soldier’s rate was 640 per million, while the civilian’s
rate was 368; in Prussia, 419 to 168; in Sweden, 450 to 101; in
Austria, 442 to 144; in Wurtemburg, 320 to 170; in Belgium, 662 to 90;
in France, 510 to 216.

In the Austrian, Italian, and French armies the officers have a rate
double that of the men; non-commissioned officers have the highest rate.

The high military rate seems to spread, too, among civilians in their
neighbourhood; some of the highest civilian rates are found on the
Austrian and Prussian military frontiers, where there is constantly a
military establishment retained as a guard.

Even at the present time in our Navy the rate is much higher than among
civilians. From a Report on the Health of the Navy, 1883, I find there
were among 43,350 officers and men, 255 deaths; 176 from disease, 79
from injury, and 6 suicides. This gives a death-rate of only 5·88 per
thousand, with a suicide rate of 138·5 per million.


Prisoners have a higher suicide rate than civilians at liberty,
especially if we consider attempts at suicide.

It is usual to make a distinction between convicts whose fate is
settled, and prisoners arrested, and untried, or at least not
convicted. For instance, Morselli gives for

  England: Prisoners, 1,100; Convicts, 350,
  France:     „         750;    „       80,

as the relative rates of voluntary death.

Female prisoners give a very high rate in Denmark and Italy, and
suicides of females are more numerous than those of males in the
prisons of these two states.

More than half of Prisoner Suicides are of men and women convicted of
crimes against the person.

The longer a prisoner remains in a convict prison, the less is the
tendency to suicide; most prisoners become used to the mode of life
under a year of confinement.

Solitary confinement produces a greater suicide tendency than
associated imprisonment, and the systems of mixed prisoners.

From a return of English local prisons, just issued, I find there were
in 1883, only ten cases of suicide, of whom only one was a female. This
return did not include the great convict establishments; with respect
to which I may add that successful attempts at self-destruction are
very rare, and statistics are not directly available.

In the prisons of Italy, the frequency of suicide is greatest in
prisoners of between twenty-one and thirty years; that is at an earlier
age than among people at large; it is found to be more often attempted
by countrymen than by town dwellers; another reversal of data.

Nearly half of all cases occur in the first year of confinement.
Two-thirds of the prison suicides had always been reported as “well

Only twenty-three per cent. of the cases occurred in criminals having a
shorter sentence than three years.

So far as I can learn, all these points are, broadly speaking, equally
true with regard to prisons in England.



It is an old, old story that the destinies of man are _governed_ by
the sun, moon, and planets; but modern science rather scouted the
ideas of the astrologers and Chaldeans; to suicide is due the honour
of reintroducing the connection. Morselli says, with regard to the
sun, “It is in fact well known that the number of these violent
deaths varies according to the position of the earth and the sun. In
the season of the year in which the earth is in aphelion there is a
_maximum_, of suicide; when in perihelion the _minimum_ is attained.”

The result of a large collection of statistics shows, however, that the
maximum suicide rate occurs in summer 88 times out of 100, as opposed
to winter; in spring the maximum occurred 9 times in 100. As to the
minimum, it occurs in winter 88 times out of 100, and only 12 times in
autumn out of the same number of observations.

As to the months, in a general way, suicide increases from January to
July, and then decreases again, month by month, to the end of the
year. Reckoning by cities only, instead of by states, the results are a
little upset, but in 11 cases of large numbers, 9 maxima fell in May,
June, and July. The number of cases of mental disease has been observed
to vary in similar months, reaching their maximum in the heat of summer.

The following Table of “Death Rates of each Season” may be compared
with the foregoing remarks on the “Seasonal Suicide rate”:

     ──   │ Spring. │ Summer. │ Autumn. │ Winter. │ TOTAL.
  England │   110   │    96   │    95   │    99   │   400
  France  │   117   │    88   │    86   │   109   │   400
  Holland │    88   │    91   │   126   │    95   │   400
  Austria │   115   │    82   │    91   │   112   │   400
  Italy   │    88   │   105   │   100   │   107   │   400

From these figures it will be apparent that the greatest mortality in
England falls to spring, and next to winter; or exactly opposite to the
tendency of suicide. In Italy only do the maxima of general mortality
and suicide coincide in the hotter two quarters of the year.

It is not so much the actual hot weather which seems to increase the
number of suicides and the amount of lunacy, nor the actual cold
weather which seems to check the number, as it is that the _onset_ of
hot weather seriously affects the human system in such a way as to
upset the equilibrium of mind function, and to suffer mental motives to
derange the intellect.

In these considerations the spring is reckoned as consisting of March,
April, and May, and the other seasons accordingly.

I do not find that these seasonal peculiarities are very marked in the
suicide rates of this country taken alone, not in London at any rate;
for example, I subjoin the figures obtained in Central Middlesex for
two years.

    ──   │ 1883. │ 1884. ││   ──   │ 1883. │ 1884.
  Spring │  30   │  24   ││ Autumn │  20   │  15
  Summer │  23   │  37   ││ Winter │  22   │  26

The Annual Reports of the Registrar General do not throw any light
on this question, nor, I may say, on several other somewhat fanciful
investigations into which foreign observers have led the way.

Morselli states, “it is most probable that the moon exercises more or
less influence on suicides as it does on madness and epilepsy, which
are generally aggravated at the time of the waning moon (full moon and
second quarter).”

“The influence of the moon would be more sharply felt by men than
by women, particularly at new moon.” This last, it seems, is the
conclusion drawn from the labours of the modern astrologers of Prussia.

But from the statistics given by himself for 1869, it appears that
255·8 and 258·8 per 1,000 occurred respectively in the moon’s first
quarter and last quarter, against 246·8 and 238·6 per 1,000 in the new
moon and full moon quarters; no very marked difference.

With regard to days, Brierre de Boismont finds in regard to Paris that
the number of suicides in the first ten days of a month exceeds the
number of the last twenty; and, stranger still, the two first days
of the month also give the largest numbers: this does not occur in
England, nor in London alone.

As to week days, among men the beginning of the week is most fatal;
Monday highest, then Tuesday, then Wednesday, and Saturday the fewest.

Among women also peculiarities come out, but they are different;
Saturday has still the fewest, the Thursday and Friday are very high,
Monday and Tuesday low, but Sunday has the highest number of all.

And now with regard to hours and times of the day, darkness seems to
be preferred to daylight. But according to a rather complete set of
tables, which I reproduce here, giving every hour, night and day, I
find that from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., about noon, and from 2 to 3 p.m. have
very much the highest numbers. The rate diminishes almost regularly
from 3 p.m., through midnight to 3 a.m., when the lowest number is

Brierre de Boismont arranged this Table; it refers to 1,993 cases
observed in Paris.

   1 a.m.    51 │  1 p.m.    79
   2 a.m.    49 │  2 p.m.   117
   3 a.m.    45 │  3 p.m.   144
   4 a.m.    50 │  4 p.m.    89
   5 a.m.    70 │  5 p.m.    86
   6 a.m.   102 │  6 p.m.    67
   7 a.m.   102 │  7 p.m.    89
   8 a.m.   126 │  8 p.m.    69
   9 a.m.   104 │  9 p.m.    69
  10 a.m.   110 │ 10 p.m.    62
  11 a.m.    81 │ 11 p.m.    44
  12 Noon   123 │ 12 p.m.    65



The relative proportion of suicides exhibited by the sexes is one of
the data in connection with our subject that received the earliest
attention, and from such early observations, until the present time,
the proportion has been remarkably constant in our own country, and
throughout Europe.

Three males to one female is the prevailing rate shown by the majority
of states reckoned in their entirety. In urban districts, and in
the great cities the female proportion is increased, and averages
one woman to two men. The Spaniards form the most notable exception
to the average, female suicide even in the rural districts of Spain
being abnormally frequent; Italy, which resembles Spain in many
peculiarities, is not similar in this respect.

As a reason for the predominance of male suicide, attention is called
to the fact that the struggle for existence falls at the present time,
and always has fallen chiefly to the men of a state, the typical female
mind, it should also be remembered, is more capable of accommodating
itself to change of circumstances, and is also more marked by powers of
self-sacrifice, than the male intellect.

The more prominent causes of male suicide are the vices, money
troubles, and tædium vitæ; whilst females are more often driven to take
their lives by the passions, mental weaknesses, remorse, and shame.

It is a peculiarity of female self-destruction that Sunday is very
frequently chosen as the day for its commission; on the other hand,
males avoid Sunday very markedly.

In Geneva, an old notification, dated 1777, was recently found, stating
that two out of three voluntary deaths in the city were those of men.

In the decennial period 1861-70, the proportion of 293 males to 100
females was found in England and Wales; but in the 10 years 1871-80,
the rate for males had increased up to 306, to 100 females; since then,
however, the female rate has again gone up, being in 1882 not less than
100 women to 278 men.

The Registrar General calculated in 1880 that the chance of a male
infant dying by suicide in England, was 1 to 211, and of a female so
doing was 1 to 578.

The female rate for England has always been higher than that of many
continental states.

With respect to London, in 1878 the proportions were 2·5 to 1; and in
1881, the female rate was less; 3·03 men to 1 woman.

In Paris, of late years, the female rate has been very high; 1·2 male
to 1 female.

Scotland shows a high female rate.

The present proportions of the European countries are: France, 79 to
21; Italy, 80 to 20; Prussia, 82 to 18; Spain, 71 to 29; Saxony, 77
to 23; Russia, 80 to 20; Holland, 78 to 22; Ireland, 78 to 22; and
Scotland, 72 to 28.

For the United States of America, the estimated numbers are 79·25 to

For the English colonists in Australia, 82 to 18 is the estimated

As an illustration of the trifling causes which sometimes lead to the
act, I may mention that Drs. Georget and Falret have both stated in
medical journals that French women have frequently committed suicide,
only because they have happened to lose their personal charms of

The female sex contributes a considerable number of cases dependent
on child-birth; these are of two classes: suicide during the course
of the mental failure, the puerperal mania, so well known to occur at
times in pregnancy and after parturition; and those saddening cases
of self-destruction occurring as a sequence to the mental anxiety and
shame, depending on pregnancy and child-birth in single women, who are
constantly being seduced under promise either of marriage, or at least
of maintenance, and then deserted by men whose malevolence is only
equalled by their lust.

Simple hysteria is also the cause of a small percentage of female
suicides; the amatory passion being usually primarily at fault.


In a calculation including the greater part of Europe, the effect of
age is found to be such that the proportion of suicide increases from
childhood up to about fifty-five years of age, and then declines very

The largest numbers occur in the years between forty and fifty.

Taking both sexes together, the period of life which exhibits by far
the most cases extends from twenty-one to sixty years of age.

The male tendency comes to its maximum after forty years of age.

The female tendency comes to its maximum before thirty years of age.

In England the ratio of female suicide between the years of fifteen
and twenty exceeds the male by more than one-tenth. In Italy it has
been observed the rate becomes high, at an earlier age than in Europe
generally. Youth is a fertile suicide stage, and after a stationary
period at a high rate, there comes another period marking the decay
of mind and the declension of life; in this, man has but a short
future to regard, and he prefers to await a natural end, especially
as at this time of life the religious feelings, often clouded over
by the struggles of middle life, again shine clear. Esquirol wrote,
“La vieillesse, qui inspire à l’homme le desir de vivre, parcequ’il
est plus près du terme de la vie, est rarement exposée au suicide.”
See “Maladies mentales.” There exists, however, some confusion in the
matter, due to associating actual numbers with per-centages at various
ages, inasmuch as Legoyt insists that the amount increases absolutely
with age.

The Registrar General for England has stated that the suicidal tendency
with regard to age increases with the advance of age to the 65-75
decennial period, and that it then diminishes, still however remaining
very great; in this country then the amount does not decrease at such
an early age, as in most of the countries of Europe.

I add as an example, the Swedish proportions during the several periods
of life, to show the rate for age:

        AGE.      │ Male. │ Female.
  To 16 years     │   3·5 │   0·9
  16 to 20 years  │  19·1 │   8·8
  21 to 30 years  │  91·3 │  29·2
  31 to 40 years  │ 161·3 │  23·2
  41 to 50 years  │ 206·3 │  35·0
  51 to 60 years  │ 201·7 │  34·2
  61 to 70 years  │ 146·3 │  27·9
  Beyond 70 years │  93·7 │  19·4

In New York, during 1883, of 151 cases, 9 were under twenty years of
age, and 5 over seventy years.


Suicide, apart from lunacy, is the act of passion, or despair, and
so far spares childhood, during which stage of life one is protected
by others from care, and when the mind is not yet opened enough to
feel the overwhelming tides of amatory, jealous, and other passionate
feelings which the adult intellect has to struggle through, and
perchance survive. It is very rare, also, for insanity to occur in a
child before puberty, unless congenital, as imbecility.

Brierre de Boismont gives the ages of 4,595 suicides in Paris; amongst
these were 77 children under fourteen years of age, 1·6 per cent.

From 1865 to 1874, in England, there were 81 suicides from ten to
fourteen years of age, 45 male and 36 female; the ratio between these
numbers shows female precocity. Child suicide is increasing in England
and in almost all the continental states.

Childhood possesses a most highly sensitive mental organisation,
coupled with a want of power to fully weigh the consequences of any
act; but what undoubtedly causes many cases now is over-pressure in
education; while the education itself produces precocious development
of the reflective faculties, of vanity, and of the desires.

During the last few years there have been several English cases of
children killing themselves, because unable to perform school tasks;
yet it must be allowed that the most modern alteration in school
life,─the abolition of corporal punishment,─has removed one fertile
cause of suicide in childhood. _See_ Ferrey and Collineau.

A writer in the Psychological Journal discusses 24 cases, 17 boys and 7
girls; of these children 1 was five years old, 2 nine, 2 ten, 5 eleven,
and 7 twelve. All the girls drowned themselves.


Having regard simply to numbers, there are most suicides among the
unmarried, next among the married, then among widowed persons, and
lastly, among persons divorced and separated.

Bachelors kill themselves oftener than married men; but in Italy,
France, Switzerland and Saxony, married women oftener than virgins.
Widows surpass widowers in frequency of suicide, and it has been
suggested by statistics that widowhood in this respect brings woman
nearer to man than any other social condition.

Wars tend to raise the rate among women, because they make so many
widows; the suicide rate of widows rose in a sudden leap in Germany and
in France, when the last war broke out, and remained over and above the
rate of virgins and wives for two years after.

Married men have, throughout, the lowest rate; suicide is more frequent
among celibate men than among virgins.

Divorce causes more male suicide than female.

Among men, allowing for extant numbers of each class, we find these
resultant proportions for 1882:─

  COUNTRIES. │ Married. │ Single.  │ Widowed.
  France     │   100    │   104    │   160
  Italy      │   100    │   114    │   198
  Wurtemburg │   100    │   147    │   162

Taking France as an example, the following proportions are found among
the suicides, after excluding males under fifteen years of age, and
females under eighteen:─

  THE SEXES. │ Celibate. │ Married. │ Widowed.
  Men        │  422·14   │  271·71  │  737·0
  Women      │   80·00   │   80·87  │  121·0

That is, unmarried men fewer than widowers. Unmarried women a trifle
fewer than married women.

In Prussia, curiously enough, these states are altered; married men
kill themselves the most often, and married women kill themselves the
least often.

Italy, again, resembles France.

In New York, for 1883, of 124 men and 27 women who killed themselves,
78 were married, 43 single, and 24 widowed or divorced.

Another curious remark has been made, whenever and wherever the
marriage rate is falling, the suicide rate is increasing, and the
reverse. The first case is shown, of late years, by France, Germany,
England, Austria; in Italy and Switzerland, from 1875, and in Belgium,
from 1873 to 1876.

On the other hand, Holland, Norway and Finland, show an increase in the
number of marriages, and a tendency to a lower suicide rate.

The presence of children to married life affects the suicide rate;
they restrain the mother more than the father, in married life and
widowhood; whilst they have the contrary effect on divorced persons.

In France, for example, the suicide loss among the married, where there
are children, is 205 per million men to 45 per million women; where
there are no children, it is 470 per million men to 158 per million
women; and among widowed persons, where there are children, the rate is
526 per million men to 104 per million women; and where there are no
children, it is 1,004 per million men to 238 per million women.

Bertillon remarks that widows are much less anxious than widowers to
marry again; that many widows become so to their peace and happiness,
and the isolation and bereavement of widowhood are usually overbalanced
by woman’s noblest virtue and care, maternal love; where there is no
such outcome needed, suicide fastens its fangs on the mind.



It is not my intention in these pages to enter into a lengthened
discussion of the once much debated question as to whether suicide be
invariably a proof of pre-existing insanity.

It is sufficient for my purpose that a certain number of suicides are
definitely insane, and that in these cases the act has been committed
in consequence of some delusion from which the patient was suffering.
Such a one may have been insane on a single point, and no other; or he
may have been entirely demented.

But there certainly are other cases, in which no symptoms of mental
disease can be discovered; either in the history of the deceased, or
in his recent actions, appearance, or conduct. “There is no lunacy
present where the sense of weariness of life is in exact relation
to existing circumstances; where obvious moral causes exist which
satisfactorily account for the deed; when the resolve has been fixed
deliberately, and might have been abandoned had the circumstances
become altered; and in which we discover, after honest and impartial
search, no other sign or symptom of mental derangement. When a man
prefers dissolution to a miserable or contemptible life, or one full of
mental and physical ills, Morality and Religion must charge him with
the deed; Insanity need not claim him for her own.”

The instinct of self-preservation is not so strong as to prevent men
altogether from being tired of life, and seeking their own deaths.
They may have exhausted all the available sources of pleasure, their
business may have gone wrong, or their honour may have suffered,
poverty and loss of position may be at hand, their difficulties may
seem entirely beyond their power to surmount, and they calmly and
deliberately arrange to leave behind them a life which has become
unbearable; such an act may be unwise, and is certainly presumptuous,
but it has in it no sign of disease.

And again, the existence of insanity cannot be affirmed in those
suicides, which have taken place in every age of the world, and are not
quite obsolete even now,─those cases of voluntary death among natives
of uncivilized countries, which form a part of either their political,
social, or religious institutions.

“Just as madness may exist, without any idea of suicide, so suicide
may take place, the effect of a full and free determination, formed by
a healthy mind, and executed with the coolness and complete system of
precautions of the most perfect logic,” says Maudsley, and he carries
with him the greater part of higher class medical opinion.

All our necessities, our desires, and our passions, produce a mental
and bodily struggle; every want of man, though necessary to his
perfection, involves victims to mental failure, and consequently either
to crime or suicide. Even religion is frequently found to lead to
disorder of intellect, from too great abstraction of thought from our
earthly duties; while, on the other hand, mental failure is often shewn
by religion becoming so absorbing a theme that it causes a patient to
forget his worldly responsibilities.

The following authorities, who have specially studied the state of mind
in cases of voluntary death, inclined to the doctrine that all suicides
are insane: Esquirol, Falret, Bourdin, Winslow, Chevrey, Foderé, and

Forbes Winslow especially was the champion of this opinion; he
distinctly wrote, no healthy mind ever permitted the act; but then in
his time a wave of special tenderness to all criminals overshadowed the
country; and exists even now, for our paupers are far less well cared
for than our gaol birds.

M. Foderé, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence at Strasburg, used to
say of voluntary death, “a suicide must be insane;” but this was a
colloquial remark, rather than a medical dogma.

M. Falret, in his treatise on “Suicide and Hypochondriasis,” says,
“suicide is necessarily an act of delirium;” perhaps it is to a medical
man who considers hypochondriasis and hysteria to be insanity.

In the year 1777 this question of the coincidence of suicide with
insanity was gravely argued before the Parliament at Paris, but the
decision was put aside on a question of form, and never settled by them.

Dr. J. G. Davey read an essay before the Bath and Bristol Branch of
the British Medical Association a few years back, in which he proved
to his own satisfaction that “suicide is at all times, and under
all circumstances, the effect of a positive brain disease;” but his
arguments fail to explain the cases where two persons commit the act
together; are we to suppose such disease of brain to be contagious? He
mentions such a case, but without explanation. See Asylum Journal of
Mental Science, vol. vii. 108, and xvi. 406.

It may be only a coincidence, but it is a fact, that almost without
exception the supporters of the theory that all suicides are insane
have been medical attendants in asylums.

Closely connected with unsoundness of mind is the disease epilepsy
and its consequences; as is well known, the less violent forms, those
in which the convulsive seizures are less obvious, are more liable to
end in mental impairment, and thence in suicide, than are the more
well-developed cases of convulsion. And among the modes of exhibiting
its effects, it must not be forgotten that epilepsy is in some cases
apt to show itself, not in a physical spasm but in a nerve storm, burst
of passion, and what not: compare the opinion of Trousseau, in “L’Union
Medicale,” 1861; he says:

“It may even safely be asserted that if a man who has presented no
previous mental disturbance, or any sign of lunacy or furor, is not
under the influence of alcohol, or any other drug, commit murder or
suicide, he is epileptic, and has suffered a complete paroxysm, or has
had epileptic vertigo.”

This very sweeping assertion does not commend itself to me, nor is it,
so far as I can ascertain, generally accepted as reliable; it is too
far reaching and dogmatic; it is one thing to believe epilepsy may be
revealed by a burst of violence, and quite another thing to decide that
every act of sudden passion is epilepsy, _i.e._, disease, and therefore

Blandford, in his work on “Insanity,” states: “That sane people commit
suicide is a fact that must be apparent to every one who exercises
_common sense_ in looking upon the subject. The hundreds of poor
persons who are brought to our hospitals, half drowned, or with throats
half cut, are _not insane_ in any medical sense of the word. Of course
there are insane persons who are suicidal.”

M. Leuret epigrammatically sums up the causes of self-murder in the
three words, madness, want, and crime.

The “Lancet,” in the autumn of last year, in an editorial article,

“Without hair-splitting, the great majority of suicides are perfectly
well aware of the nature of the act they are performing, and do a deed
with a so far intelligent purpose of escaping from a misery which seems
unendurable, or because of some terror or shame that for the time

“It is heart-breaking and brain-tearing trouble that causes it, in the
(hope or) belief that dying is sleep, or eternal oblivion.”

Dr. Gray, in the American Journal of Insanity, vol. xxxiv., writes,
in regard to the United States: “Suicide is always an unnatural act,
but in the large proportion of cases, if not in the majority, it is
committed by sane people.”

Bucknill and Tuke, “Psychological Medicine,” state definitely, “it
cannot be disputed that suicide may be done in a perfectly healthy
state of mind,” ... “neither can it be doubted that it is the effect of
a cerebro-mental disease in many cases.”

M. F. Dabadie, the author of a famous French work on Suicide, remarks,
“if physiologists had endeavoured simply to establish that suicide was
frequently a sign of madness, no one would have denied them; but to
pretend, as some French physiologists have done, that every suicide is
insane, is to _insult history and common sense_, and to expose oneself
to ridicule.”

Des Etangs, in his work, “Suicide in France, from 1789 to 1860,”
analyses and reviews the causation of 210,000 cases; he is fully
convinced of the very large number of persons who kill themselves from
sane motives, and with a sane mind.

He narrates numerous instances in which suicides have left their
reasons for the act, written out at length, and these reasons, in most
cases, shew “une lucidité parfaite.”

M. Littré remarks, “Quand un homme expose clairement les raisons qui
l’empêchent de vivre plus longtemps, et quand ces raisons sont réeles
et non pas imaginaires, quel motif y-a-t-il de lui denier la liberté
morale, telle que nous la connaissons chez chacun de nous?”

In this place may suitably be mentioned the sad death of the Afghan
surgeon Mahomed Ismail Khan, who had studied medicine in England, had
taken his diplomas, and had then found all avenues to making a living
in England closed to him on account of his nationality, colour, &c.
(he could not return to his Indian home, having lost caste there); he,
poor fellow, after making repeated efforts to obtain a situation that
would support him, and after having exhausted his private means, drank
prussic acid in bed at his lodgings. He left behind him a long and
detailed history of himself, ending in a dissertation on suicide and
its permissibility.

This essay, from its great medical and psychological interest, was
offered to the editor of one of our leading medical journals for
publication, but this was declined, on the ground that the arguments in
favour of suicide were so delusive that it would be a public error to
disseminate them. History repeats itself, for I find Voltaire narrates
that he knew a professional man who, before killing himself, wrote an
essay on suicide, and sent it for publication to the authorities of his
native town, in 1769; the town council refused to publish it, assigning
as their reason, that it would encourage men to quit a life, of which
so much ill could be said.

It may be stated here, as a generalization, that whilst the medium
course of life is the safest, the extremes of riches and indulgence,
and their reverse, poverty and asceticism, both increase the suicide
rate in about an equal proportion.

Post-mortem examination has not as yet disclosed any definite brain
lesion, even in positive insanity, so that the discovery of a brain
blemish associated with suicide is hardly to be expected. There have
not been any large number of investigations into the post-mortem
appearances of the brain in deaths from suicide in this country; in
Wurtemburg, however, for two years, 1873-1875, a special examination
was ordered in all cases of suicide in the insane, without any very
valuable result being arrived at, viz., definite lesions of the brain
existed in 45 per cent. of the cases, definite disease of other organs
in 16 per cent., and negative results in 39 per cent.

Bucknill and Tuke divide insane suicides into three classes: 1. The
monomania of self destruction; 2. In melancholia, death is chosen as
the lesser evil; 3. Delusional, as when the sufferer hears a voice
commanding him to act on its behests.

It must not be forgotten that the criminal law of England allows the
possibility of a lunatic committing a murder in a lucid interval; and
so also a lunatic may be held to _kill himself_ in a lucid interval.


The special symptoms of each form of madness will on consideration
be found sufficient to account for difficulties in forming anything
like an accurate estimate of the relative amount of suicide in each
of its forms. For example, in mania, sudden outbursts of violence may
either end in instant self-destruction, or the sudden violence causes
such precautions to be at once taken, that suicide is not practicable.
In melancholia the chances of a self-inflicted death being allowed
to occur, are much greater, because the patient is inoffensive, and
the disease is of long continuance; the sufferer has often daily
opportunities for months; and thus we find melancholia credited with
the largest number. In monomaniacs, again, the project of suicide
is often matured in their brains, whilst they hide their delusions;
until a sudden outburst of suicide or crime startles the relations,
who have only been saying to each other just before, “the patient is
safe enough, the only thing the matter with him is the presence of a

To imbecility, again, we do not find many cases allotted; the imbecile
has not mind enough to feel his grievances sufficiently strong to make
him exert himself to end them.

In the Reports of the English Lunacy Commissioners the cases of
dementia are subdivided into two classes, ordinary and senile, each
giving about as many cases as mania.

Abercrombie remarked, that the most striking peculiarity of melancholia
is the propensity to self-murder; under a conviction of overwhelming
and helpless misery, the feeling of life to be a burden, arises;
and this is succeeded by a determination to quit it. A singular
modification is sometimes seen, in which with the desire of death,
there exists a sense of the sin of suicide; and to avoid this sin,
another idea arises, viz., to bring about the death by committing a
murder, and so to be executed. Several instances have been described,
in which the insane murderer has distinctly avowed this process of
reasoning, disclaiming any malice against the person he had killed,
who by the way was generally a child, and in one case the reason for
choosing a child was also explained by the lunatic, which was to avoid
the risk of sending out of the world a person in a state of unrepented

In the north-western and central parts of Europe madness and suicide
coincide in intensity.

Osiander stated that the scale of madness among the European states has
much resemblance to the comparative suicide rates.

On an approximate estimation I find that the Germanic stock has 2
madmen per 1,000 persons, the Celtic-Latin has 1 madman per 1,000
persons, the Slavonic has 0·6 only.

It is estimated that there are about 300,000 mad persons in the Old
World, of whom Germany, France, and England, give the greater number.

The French and Italian statistics of insane suicides are not
subdivided, and so are not available to show the relative proportions
of the forms of insanity; the German numbers give the following result
in recent years, 1875 _et seq._:─

                   │      Per Cent.
  FORMS OF LUNACY. ├─────────┬────────
                   │ Males.  │Females.
  Religious mania  │   0·7   │  0·6
  Monomania        │   0·6   │  0·5
  Melancholia      │  68·7   │  69·
  Brain fever      │   5·    │  2·8
  Mania            │   5·1   │  2·6
  Imbecility       │   5·7   │  5·0
  Unnamed          │  14·2   │  19·5

With regard to our own country, the last Report of the Lunacy
Commissioners for England and Wales shows that of 13,581 patients
admitted to the register of lunatics for 1882, 3,877 were stated to
have a suicidal propensity, viz., 1,785, or 26·8 per cent. of the
males; and 2,092, or 30·2 per cent. of the females.

The total number of lunatics in charge for the year 1882 was 76,765,
and of these 17 committed suicide: 10 males and 4 females in asylums, 1
male before admission, and 1 male and 1 female while “on leave.” There
were 17 suicides also in the year 1881. This small number of actual
deaths speaks volumes for the care and attention which must be bestowed
on the suicidal patients.

The proportion of suicidal tendency was higher among pauper than among
well-to-do lunatics.

The highest rate of suicidal propensity was found in cases of
melancholia, a proportion of 57, compared to mania 21, ordinary
dementia 16, senile dementia 15, and idiocy 8.

The states of family life gave these proportions: marriage 32, celibacy
24, and widowhood 29, and of married persons, more females than males.

The Report also subdivides these cases with respect to the causes
assigned for the insanity; the following were the most fertile causes,
with the relative proportions:─

Domestic trouble, 9·7 (twice as many females as males); adverse
circumstances, 6·0; overwork, worry, 7·5; religious excitement,
3·6; love affairs, 1·9; nervous shock, 1·4; alcoholic excess, 12·1
(nineteen males to six females); sexual excess, 0·5; sunstroke, 0·7;
venereal disease, 0·3; self-abuse, 1·0; accidents, 3·2; pregnancy and
parturition, 3·6; change of life (females), 2·9; privation, 2·0; old
age, 3·0; bodily disease, 11·0; hereditary transmission, 22·8; and
previous attacks, 15·8.

In England it is not practicable to form any reliable estimate of the
true proportion of insane suicides, as compared with those occurring
from disease and mental trouble. On the Continent an attempt is made in
most States to assign the proportion; but it is easy to point out the
difficulty of the task and the numerous errors that are liable to creep
into such calculations. The following rates per 1,000 suicides have
been published in the “Asylum Journal,” vol. 27: France, 300 insane per
1,000; Belgium, 470; Prussia, 333; Italy, 343; and Bavaria, 342.

M. Prévost, in a learned investigation of cases of voluntary death,
estimated that 18 per cent. occurred in insane persons.

I have made careful investigation into all the cases of suicide which
I have observed, and all those cases upon which I have held inquests,
as the Deputy for Dr. Danford Thomas, in Middlesex, and I have found
that in 20 per cent. only had the deceased ever exhibited symptoms of
insanity obvious to the friends and relations.

The suicide rates of the great German lunatic asylums are higher than
those of our English ones. Dr. Löwenhardt, of the great asylum at
Sachsenburg, states that the average number of suicidal deaths in that
institution is 5 per cent., a large proportion; for in the asylum of
Illenau 3 per cent. only killed themselves, and in the asylum of Halle,
only 1·7 per cent.

The varying rates of suicidal death in asylums depend very much on
the qualities of the nurses on the staff, and on the relative number
of patients attached to each attendant, for nothing but a constant
and lynx-eyed survey will prevent the self-destruction of a large
proportion of lunatics, when they have a wave of suicidal tendency
passing over their minds.



In relation to lunacy and mental disturbance, I must now refer to the
question of Epidemic and Imitational Suicide.

No crime seems to have so strong a tendency to spread by example and
imitation as this one. Epidemics have occurred on many occasions, and
I have already mentioned an epidemic of suicide taking place among the
soldiers of Tarquinius Superbus.

At Alexandria, in the time of the Ptolemies, an epidemic was originated
by Hegesias the philosopher, who discoursed so eloquently on the
numerous trials of this life and the pleasures of death, that numbers
of persons destroyed themselves; and the philosopher was banished.

When Xanthus, a city of Lycia, was conquered by Brutus, the citizens
slew themselves by hundreds.

At Miletus the women committed suicide in large numbers, because their
husbands and lovers were detained by the wars: they hanged themselves;
the frenzy was checked by an edict that their bodies were to be dragged
naked through the streets. Other examples of wholesale suicide are
shown by the people of Sidon, who burned their city and themselves
when besieged by Artaxerxes Ochus, by the Tyrians when conquered by
Alexander, and by the Acheans when defeated by Metellus.

At Marseilles, an old historian records that at one time the young
women made it quite a habit to kill themselves when their lovers were
not constant to them.─(Esquirol.)

Large numbers of suicides were committed by Christians in the terrible
times of persecution in the reigns of Nero, Decius, and Diocletian.

In the dancing mania and the follies of Tarantulism in Naples, between
1500 and 1600, the patients often thronged in crowds to the sea shore,
and rushed singing into the waves, as Lecky narrates.

An epidemic of drowning affecting women alone also occurred at Lyons;
these cases had no apparent cause; it was checked by an order to expose
all the bodies naked in the market. _See_ Spon, “Histoire de la Ville
de Lyon,” 1676, and Primerosius Jacobus, “De mulierum morbis,” 1665.

Sydenham is the authority for the statement that suicide prevailed to
an alarming degree in Mansfield in the year 1697; and at Versailles, in
1793, 300 persons killed themselves. At Rouen in 1806, at Stuttgardt in
1811, epidemics occurred. In Valois an epidemic of hanging took place
in 1813, see Sydenham, “Complete Works,” vol. ii. In July and August
1806, 300 persons committed suicide in Copenhagen; these cases formed a
distinctly marked epidemic. Suicide is almost epidemic, or endemic, in
connection with the disease Pellagra in Italy, Spain, and the South of
France. It is said that one-third of the victims of this disease kill
themselves. This scourge appears to be a nervous affection, associated
with erythema and degeneration of the skin, and dependent partly on the
effect of the sun, especially in spring, and partly on the consumption
of unhealthy maize as food; its most usual termination is in dementia.

Groups of Suicides from Imitation, almost amounting to minute
epidemics, have occurred from several churches, monuments, and elevated
structures, their great height being the incentive to the victim to
throw himself off; such are the Duomo of Milan, St. Peter’s at Rome,
the Campanile of Giotto, Florence, the Vendôme Column, Paris, the
Monument, London, the Suspension Bridge at Clifton, and the Archway
at Highgate; from this last viaduct, which is protected only by a low
wall, there have been four suicides in as many months; in response to
repeated representations from Dr. Danford Thomas and myself, the Local
Board have at last undertaken to put up a railing on this bridge.

After the suicide of Lord Castlereagh, a large number of persons put
an end to their lives in the same manner. Several imitational suicides
and suicidal attempts occurred in 1841, following the drowning of a
young woman in the Thames. She left a letter behind her, explaining her
unfortunate love affairs; her case made a great noise at the time, and
much public fuss and public sympathy were shewn on her behalf, and no
doubt led to her successors’ deaths.

After a tragedy at Pentonville, in 1842, in which a man cut the
throats of his children and then committed suicide himself, there were
within a week two similar cases.

At a meeting of the French Academy of Medicine, 1827, Dr. Costel
related that, in Paris, at the Hotel des Invalides, a soldier having
hung himself on a post, his example was in a very short time followed
by twelve other invalided soldiers. The post was removed, and there
were no more cases in the building for a considerable period.

Legoyt narrates that the drama of “Chatterton,” by M. de Vigny, when
performed in Paris, caused many persons to kill themselves in imitation
of the hero; and he asserts that the same effect has followed, in
France, the study of Ugo Foscolo’s “Jacopo Ortis,” Byron’s “Manfred,”
Chateaubriand’s “René,” Constant’s “Adolphus,” and Lamartine’s

Dr. Ebrard, in “Le Suicide,” 1870, condemns the teaching of the stories
of the Stoics and their suicides to schoolboys, thinking it blameworthy
to familiarise the youthful mind with the idea of self-destruction.

In Germany, many references in the literature of our time may be found,
in which the study of Pessimism,─the doctrines of Schopenhauer (d.
1860), are blamed for decoying men to self-destruction.

The following notice is cut from a newspaper, April 1885:

 No less than seven suicides effected or attempted were reported in
 Paris one day last week. At five in the morning, a packing-case maker
 in the Faubourg St. Martin, named Rozette, took a dose of laudanum,
 and was removed to a hospital in a critical state; at seven, a
 messenger was found hanging in his lodgings at an hotel in the Rue
 de Chartres; about the same time a concierge at 16, Rue Chalgrin,
 committed suicide with charcoal; at eight, a retired tradesman, aged
 62, killed himself by firing a revolver in his mouth; at one, a man
 living in the Place de la Chapelle, stabbed himself with a shoemaker’s
 knife; at four, a porter at the Central Markets shot himself with
 a revolver; and lastly, at ten in the evening, a tailor, living at
 the Rue Bonaparte, shot himself twice in the head while riding in a

I have reason to believe that it is perfectly true (although it has
been denied) that a very considerable number of French officers and men
slew themselves in the confusion and headlong retreat which followed
the general advance of the English line, at the close of the battle
of Waterloo, when the confusion was made worse confounded by the
additional onslaught of the Prussians from the flank.

M. Legoyt also narrates this statement as authentic, and there is no
inherent improbability in it, if we consider that among those who fled,
were the “Old Guard” who had never known defeat.

The love of notoriety also comes in for mention in this place. One
man has killed himself by attaching his body to a rocket, and then
setting fire to the fuse; nothing but a desire to be notorious seems to
explain this action. Another man threw himself into the crater of Mount
Vesuvius. Empedocles, the philosopher, threw himself into the crater of
Mount Etna.

Soon after the death of Miss Moyes the first of a series of suicides
from the Monument, London, Elam narrates that a lad took poison
with the intent to kill himself; when questioned by the police, he
answered, “I wished to be talked about, like the woman who threw
herself off the Monument.” And this is a very fair example of many
instances of voluntary death, but whether it forms a good public policy
to call those sufferers insane is questionable: personally, I think
that such persons are encouraged by the neglect to stigmatise them as

It is not every suicide from a dangerous height that is caused by
imitation; there does undoubtedly exist a peculiar form of fascination,
apt to arise from a sense of insecurity, such as occurs to a person
standing on a cliff or a house top, and I am convinced that this
fascination does cause many _involuntary_ suicides.

Mental debility is a cause of it, and so is dyspepsia, and I expect
that like lack of courage it is a matter of lack of health. Other
forms of this weakness are occasionally seen; some men dare not trust
themselves with a razor, and others have a terror of handling a

Improvement of health, strong mental effort, and custom remove these
unpleasant feelings.



Incurable bodily diseases, and the accompanying pain of some other
disorders, are not uncommon causes of a voluntary death. It has been
estimated that incurable diseases are even more powerful as a cause
than very painful ones.

The heavy voluntary death rate of persons afflicted with pellagra has
been already noticed, as has the dictum of Pliny that the presence of
stone in the bladder constitutes a fair reason for self-destruction.
Not long ago I held an inquest on the body of a medical man who
hung himself to avoid the pain and worry of an apparently incurable
stricture of the urethra.

Continental statisticians have calculated that bodily disease causes 8
per cent. of Italian suicides, 13 per cent. of French, 10 per cent. of
Norwegian, and 12 per cent. of Prussian suicides. These are voluntary
deaths, not deaths during delirium accompanying disease.

Loss of sight, and loss of hearing, are both causes of increased
suicide rate; in Prussia it has been estimated that persons having
suffered such deprivation contribute a rate almost double that of
persons not so afflicted.


Closely connected with mental and bodily disorders as a cause of
suicide is sleeplessness, apart from organic disease. There is, I
suppose, nothing more trying to the sensations, and nothing more
exhausting to the nervous system, than this symptom. Its tendency
to become habitual, and to become more and more complete, are its
harassing qualities. I have held inquests on cases distinctly referable
to the misery caused by want of sleep.

That sleeplessness is an important factor in producing suicide is
pointed out very forcibly by Dr. Jos. Williams in an article in the
“Lancet” of 1850. “Business men especially apply to their doctors
for this ailment, and their request is often answered by a little
anti-dyspeptic mixture, whereas a powerful sedative for a few nights,
until rest and change can be arranged for, would be the means of
preserving life.”

The “Medical Times and Gazette,” 1872, in referring to two similar
deaths from suicide, those of Mr. Justice Willes and Hugh Miller the
Geologist, insisted also on the necessity of procuring sleep and rest
for worried men, and so did good service.


Without doubt the habitual use of alcohol to excess is a very fertile
suicide prompter, and it is found that the stronger the form of alcohol
used, the more often crime and suicide are produced; such are as rare
when the light wines are drunk, as they are frequent among spirit

Lunier, Ann. Med. Psychol., 1872, calculating the results in 79
departments, states that the amount of crime in France is in direct
proportion to the consumption of alcohol, and so are the rates of
lunacy and suicide. As a mean of the estimates of many observers,
about one-eighth of all suicides are _directly_ caused by alcohol.
It produces suicide in several ways; in a fit of drunkenness, during
delirium tremens, by causing mania or melancholia, or by leading to
complete imbecility.

Suicides due to alcoholic poisoning, and alcoholic mind failure, are
indeed seen among those who are too rich to require to work at all,
or to be regularly at work; but the greatest amount of disease and
death due to alcohol exists among the poor, and especially among the
poor of our great cities; a very large number of these spend almost
the whole of their small earnings in poisonous drinks. The radical
remedy for suicide caused by this form of indulgence is doubtless the
improvement of the intellectual and moral status, the cultivation of
habits of thrift, economy, and foresight. If the humble mechanic could
only be led to the conviction of the paramount necessity of assuring
himself against accidents, disease, and old age, and of avoiding the
degradation of becoming chargeable during such misfortunes to the means
of others who have provided such store, he would neglect the gross
indulgences of the sot, for the self-esteem and honour arising from a
consciousness of having worked while it was yet day, and laid up a
store for the evil hours which do so surely come.

The drink question is one, however, which is now so frequently brought
to our notice, by our worthy teetotal and temperance friends, that
I am sure I need not occupy much space in discussing the amount of
self-destruction caused by alcohol, directly or indirectly, through
debauchery, loss of money, position, or self-respect.


The influence of Hereditary Predisposition is one of surpassing
interest, but is also another of those causes of which it is very
difficult to procure accurate statistics; and very few countries have
as yet given any data in connection with it.

Relations of suicides are apt to be very reticent of confessing to
lunacy in their families, and it is hereditary mental failure, lunacy,
epilepsy, dipsomania, &c., which are the forerunners of a future death
by suicide.

In Bavaria alone has an effort been made to estimate hereditary
influence; from 1857-66, we are told it was shewn to exist in 13 per
cent. of all voluntary deaths, since then in 18 per cent.

Voltaire narrates that he knew a professional man, his brother, and the
father of both, who all killed themselves at the same age, in the same

Bucknill and Tuke give examples of suicide from hereditary insanity,
and remark, “that they abound;” similar cases will be found described
in almost all works treating of insanity.

Falret gives several cases, for example:─In one, a grandmother, mother,
and grandchild, killed themselves. In another, five sons and one
daughter, of a questionably sane father, all committed the act.

Griesinger gives us an example:─A man and his wife became insane, he
hung himself and she drowned herself; one daughter poisoned herself, a
son strangled himself, and another daughter threw herself off a house

In Lisle, on “Suicide,” ten marked cases are given.

Burrows narrates, at full length, the case of one family, as
follows:─The grandfather hanged himself; he left four sons, one hanged
himself, one cut his throat, one drowned himself, and one died a
natural death. Two of these sons had large families; of the third,
two children became insane, one died a natural death, the other made
several attempts on his life, and two others drowned themselves,
apparently sane.

The effect of mental agitation in a person knowing that he is
the descendant of insane persons or of suicides, is worthy of
consideration; to a well-educated man, what a “skeleton in the closet”
to live with, must be the constant recollection of the risk to which
hereditary transmission exposes him. Such a spectre may well refuse
to be laid, and must be a fertile cause in the production of another
generation of suicides.


There is yet another mental cause which is credited both with causing
insanity and with causing suicide, especially in the United States.
I refer to Spiritualism, in the modern acceptation of the title. It
has been seriously discussed in America, whether or not a believer in
spiritualism is not ipso facto mad (Buckham) but without going to that
extreme point of view, it is most wise to bear in mind that many cases
of lunacy and many suicides have been assigned to this cause.

The combined effects of a belief in the doctrine that it is possible in
our bodies to hold communication with the departed, and of attempts to
practise this system of intercourse, conjoined with the corollary that
what spirits reveal is true, and so to say, inspired, has frequently
had a most fatal effect on minds of a dreamy sort. I knew, myself, a
most sane and sensible young medical man, who became imbued, through
a spiritualistic father, with a faith in the possibility of obtaining
information of a mystic and occult character by means of somewhat
mesmeric proceedings; sad to relate, he very soon became mentally upset
with a religious terror, and took his life, without having previously
evinced any tendency to self-destruction.



Life weariness was the suicide cause, which French authors supposed to
be excited in English people by their climate; and in like manner to
their error in attributing a heavier suicide rate to England than to
their own country; they erred in assigning tædium vitæ as a fertile
suicide cause in England. Modern observations disclose but very few
English suicides due to this influence; we islanders require as a
rule a stronger stimulus than this one to induce us to terminate our
existences. Misery and despair cause a very large number of cases;
and so do our passions, yet the passions do not cause so large a
percentage as in hotter countries; along the Mediterranean coast, where
a sub-tropical climate exists, the vices and license of the passions
are a more fruitful cause than in our temperate clime.

Tædium vitæ, disgust of life, is not often a simple weariness, not
at least as a suicide cause; it is either profound sorrow produced
by a very real and serious loss, or else it is the effect of satiety
following the abuse of pleasure; still it is occasionally seen in men
and women who have no object in life, and no need of exertion, and in
whom even the daily task of finding something to pass away the time is
too onerous.

Tissot cites the cases of Pyramus and Thisbe, Dido, Sappho, Phyllis,
Alcyon, Portia, Anthony, Cleopatra and Arria, as examples of suicide
caused by unrestrained passions; and many modern instances are
described in Forbes Winslow’s Anatomy of Suicide. Jealousy and
disappointment in love affairs do not cause so many voluntary deaths
as is commonly supposed; and I think it probable that the suicides of
lovers are often caused partly by a desire to punish the offending ones
by the regretful feelings which the death of a once-loved person must
excite; and such vengeance is not without a certain sweetness to some
persons’ minds.

Curiously enough envy also has been assigned as the cause of a person’s
voluntary death, although it is not clear what consolation this can

The spirit of vindictiveness is, I regret to be obliged to say, a
rather fertile cause in this country; for example, Dr. Danford Thomas
narrates that a servant maid, a few years ago, in Central Middlesex,
having been blamed for her negligence, was given a month’s notice to
leave; she asked permission to go out, it was granted; she went out and
bought a piece of rope; the same evening she was found hanging in her

In the same district, and about the same time, a young woman-servant
strangled herself with a neck scarf to spite her mistress, who had
scolded her for breakages due to carelessness. In each of these cases
the clear opinion of both Coroner and jury was that a feeling of spite
was the only prompter of the act.

Several worthy members of the medical profession have sought in suicide
a refuge from the mental pain and anxiety caused by unjust accusations;
a doctor is desperately liable to such charges, which are usually
brought for the purpose of extorting money, or for revenge.

There was a sad example in 1865 of a surgeon at Salisbury, and one two
years ago at Hounslow; and since then at Kensington a much respected
medical practitioner stooped to self-destruction when a criminal charge
was brought against him, which subsequent investigation showed to be
without the legal and medical facts necessary to support it.

I believe that if a calculation could be made of the _proximate_
causes of suicide in England, the most common causes would be found
to be misery, despair of success in life, and remorse for crimes,
misdemeanours and follies.

In concluding the consideration of causation, I remark that Morselli
and others have said, that in the ancient world political fanaticism
had its era for causing men to end their lives; in the Middle Ages
religious fanaticism held its sway as a cause of suicide; and I should
add that in modern times it is the high pressure at which we live, the
difficulty of obtaining a livelihood, and the forced education of the
young, which fills our asylums and swells our voluntary death-rate.



It is a somewhat curious fact, considering the immense number of
feasible means of terminating one’s existence, that there should be
such a small number of methods in constant use. To enumerate the
possible means which should fulfil the necessities of the case,
viz., to be certain and be speedy, would take too long, and would
be unnecessary. The means that are used daily are practically very
few; the following eight methods include almost every case: Hanging,
drowning, shooting, cut throat and other wounds, falls from a height,
placing the body in the path of railway trains and other vehicles,
poison, and suffocation by want of air, or poisonous gases. Voluntary
starvation, which was common in ancient Rome, is now almost unknown.
The relative frequency of these means is found to vary in each country,
and in each country varies with age, sex, occupation, and opportunity,
but these several numbers are very constant year after year.

Whenever we find the use of an exceptional means, which causes
prolonged or more exquisite torture, we constantly find evident
traces of insanity─(Morselli). The sane man may kill himself, but he
endeavours to do it as easily as may be.

The means I have said is governed by opportunity; for example,
Russians, on account of their climate, live mostly indoors, and are
forbidden by law to carry arms, so we find hanging most common. In
Italy we have an out-door life, and arms are frequently carried, and
there we find shooting and drowning the most common. And now of late
years, in proportion to the spread of railways, we find the number of
persons casting themselves under trains to increase.

HANGING is the most prominent means of suicide almost throughout
Europe; the Germans are the most conspicuous for choosing this mode of
death, and next the Russians; the Italians, on the contrary avoid it.
It is by far the most common means used in England, and has of late
years been gaining in frequency in many European countries, notably in
France and Denmark. It is never so common among women as among men in
any country.

DROWNING is the next most frequent means. Italy and France supply
the largest proportions; its amount bears a definite relation to the
average temperature; the cooler the climate the less frequent is
suicidal drowning; it is rare in Russia. The annual reports show that
it is decreasing in France.

The female sex is the especial patroness of death by drowning in every
country; twice as many women as men drown themselves in Europe every

FIRE ARMS are used chiefly in Italy and Switzerland; they form the
fifth means in order of frequency in England. In the neighbourhood of
the military frontiers of Austria and Germany they are a frequent means
of death.

CUT THROAT occupies about the same position as drowning in England and
Ireland; but in no other country is it anything like so common. It is
beyond all other wounds the most common. Opening of the veins is an
almost forgotten practice.

FALLS from a height are a specially favoured means of destruction with
the Italians; it is neglected by all other nationalities.

POISON is another mode of killing very popular among the Anglo-Saxons,
especially in England and the United States. Some poisons are very
easily procured by anyone, because they are used in the arts, whilst
others are difficult to be obtained, and are seldom used for suicidal
purposes, except by medical men and chemists.

The poisons most frequently used are: Opium, morphia, and their
preparations; prussic acid, cyanide of potassium (used in photography),
and essential oil of bitter almonds (used in cookery); carbolic acid
and its preparations, the disinfectant liquids; oxalic acid (used
in the arts, to clean metals); strychnia and its preparations, the
vermin-killing powders.

Less frequently used are lunar caustic; the mercurial salts; the
vegetable narcotics; the mineral acids; preparations of arsenic,
phosphorus, and its preparations, chiefly vermin killers; and salts of

SUFFOCATION by carbonic acid gas was first used in Paris. Closed
charcoal stoves are common in France, and it is easy to destroy life by
means of them in a small room. The practice is spreading in France, and
has taken root in Germany also.

I now subjoin tables of the means employed in England, Scotland, and
Ireland, and in London, and in Europe generally.

ENGLISH SUICIDES tabulated according to Means.

                             │   1881.     │   1882.
             MEANS,          ├─────┬───────┼─────┬───────
  Railways and other vehicles│ 44  │   6   │ 51  │   5
  Fire-arms                  │ 118 │   4   │ 121 │   2
  Cut throat                 │ 279 │  60   │ 264 │  56
  Cuts and stabs             │ 16  │   2   │ 23  │   3
  Falls from a height        │ 27  │  13   │ 20  │  21
  Burns, scalds, explosions  │  2  │   1   │  5  │   0
  Drowning                   │ 271 │  172  │ 240 │  179
  Hanging                    │ 474 │  111  │ 528 │  120
  Strangling                 │ 37  │  12   │ 30  │   9
  Suffocation by vapours     │  2  │   0   │  0  │   0
  Poison                     │ 147 │  81   │ 117 │  111
  Other causes               │ 59  │  17   │ 47  │  13
                 TOTAL       │1,476│  479  │1,446│  519

SUICIDES in ENGLAND: Relative use of various POISONS.

                        │    1881.    │    1882.
        POISONS.        ├─────┼───────┼─────┼───────
  Arsenic               │  6  │   2   │  4  │   2
  Mercury               │  0  │   0   │  4  │   3
  Ammonia               │  1  │   1   │  0  │   1
  Phosphorus            │  3  │   5   │  1  │   5
  Sulphuric acid        │  1  │   1   │  2  │   1
  Nitric acid           │  0  │   0   │  1  │   3
  Hydrochloric acid     │  6  │   1   │  8  │   2
  Oxalic acid           │  7  │   8   │ 13  │  11
  Carbolic acid         │ 15  │  18   │  6  │  13
  Opium and morphia     │ 33  │   6   │ 20  │  12
  Alcohol               │  0  │   1   │  1  │   1
  Belladonna and aconite│  1  │   1   │  1  │   3
  Chloroform            │  1  │   1   │  1  │   0
  Chloral               │  4  │   1   │  1  │   0
  Prussic acid          │ 19  │   1   │  8  │   3
  Cyanide of potassium  │ 15  │   1   │ 10  │   4
  Strychnia             │  7  │   9   │  8  │  11
  Benzoline             │  0  │   0   │  1  │   0
  Vermin killers        │  0  │   0   │  7  │  17
  Disinfectant fluid    │  0  │   0   │  1  │   1
  Other poisons         │ 19  │  24   │ 19  │  18
                TOTAL   │ 147 │  81   │ 117 │  111

As a comparison between England, as a whole, and London, I subjoin
these figures, relating to cases in Central Middlesex during 1883 and
1884, investigated by Dr. Danford Thomas or myself:─

               │    1883     │    1884
      MEANS.   ├─────┼───────┼─────┼───────
  Hanging      │ 16  │   1   │ 18  │   4
  Drowning     │ 15  │  10   │  7  │   4
  Poison       │ 13  │   5   │ 21  │  10
  Fire-arms    │ 12  │   0   │  8  │   0
  Cut throat   │ 13  │   4   │ 12  │   3
  Falls        │  5  │   3   │  1  │   3
  Stabs        │  0  │   0   │  1  │   0
  Railways     │  1  │   1   │  0  │   0
  Burns        │  0  │   0   │  1  │   0
  Suffocation  │  1  │   0   │  1  │   0
  Strangulation│  1  │   0   │  1  │   0
  Other means  │  1  │   0   │  0  │   0
       TOTAL   │ 78  │  24   │ 70  │  25

REPORT of Registrar General for Scotland, 1881.

  Population              3,745,485
  Total Deaths               72,325
  General Death-rate          19·31
  Suicide Rate                 48·5
  Total Suicides                182
    Of whom were Males          131
        „    „   Females         51


      MEANS.    │Male.│Female.
  Railways      │  2  │   1
  Fire-arms     │ 10  │   0
  Cut throat    │ 26  │   4
  Cuts and stabs│  2  │   0
  Hanging       │ 44  │   8
  Drowning      │ 27  │  26
  Poison        │ 11  │   9
  Unstated means│  9  │   3

_N.B._─These are the latest statistics issued, 1885.


General Death Rate, 1882, was 17·4; 1883 was 19·2.

Suicide Rate, 1882, was 20·7; 1883 was 24·7.

              1882.             │            1883.
  There were─                   │There were─
      141 Homicides.            │    107 Homicides.
      105 Suicides { Male,   81.│    124 Suicides { Male,   89.
                   { Female, 24.│                 { Female, 35.

The MEANS were:

               │       1882.         │        1883.
     MEANS.    ├─────────┬───────────┼──────────┬──────────
               │  Male.  │ Female.   │  Male.   │  Female.
  Hanging      │    24   │   4       │   19     │    8
  Drowning     │    14   │   6       │   17     │   14
  Shooting     │    21   │   2       │   20     │    0
  Cutting      │    13   │   6       │   25     │    8
  Poison       │     2   │   4       │    7     │    2
  Other means  │     7   │   2       │    1     │    3

In a Report on the Health of the British Navy for 1883, there are
six suicides described, which occurred during the year; 2 were by
fire-arms, 1 by hanging, 2 by drowning, and 1 from poison.

I add here a table, supplied by the “Lancet,” of the relative
proportional use of various means in the countries of Europe.

Per 1,000 Suicides.

    Means.   │England.│Prussia.│Italy.│Belgium.│Switzerland.│France.
  Hanging    │   368  │   608  │ 167  │  545   │    430     │  450
  Drowning   │   208  │   182  │ 300  │  228   │    267     │  290
  Fire-arms  │    46  │   109  │ 244  │  118   │    170     │  110
  Cutting    │   206  │    54  │  55  │   39   │     67     │   40
  Poison     │    94  │    30  │  61  │   23   │     33     │   20
  Falling    │    20  │     9  │ 113  │   15   │     11     │   30
  Suffocation│    30  │     3  │  22  │    4   │     13     │   70

Legoyt has calculated the relative proportions of these causes in the
two sexes, in Europe as a whole, thus:

    ──  │Hanging.│Drowning.│Fire-arms.│Wounds.│Falls.│Poison.
  Male  │  521   │   150   │   134    │  89   │  26  │  48
  Female│  395   │   346   │    8     │  59   │  27  │  117

Of 151 suicides in New York, in 1883, 56 were from fire-arms, 19
hanging, 15 stabbing and cutting, 12 drowning, 11 falls from a height,
18 poisoning with Paris green, and 7 with opium.

These cases have been also tabulated in a manner showing the relative
amounts of each means according to nationalities, and disclose the
very remarkable fact, that English, French, Germans and Irish, when
they have emigrated and are living in a foreign country, still retain
their racial predilections for means of suicide; but they also shew
that there is a tendency to follow the custom of a place, inasmuch as
poison, the favourite means of the native of New York, becomes more
frequent among the French and Germans there, than it is among French
and Germans at home.

Of means rarely observed, I may mention, death by starvation; it is
more rare now-a-days than it was in classical times; it requires
extreme resolution to persevere in this means of self-destruction, and
it is extremely painful.

One case of attempted crucifixion is on record, that of Matthew Lovat,
in 1802, at Venice; he indeed made two attempts, but failed in both.

In Middlesex, last year, a man deliberately inhaled coal gas from the
supply pipe in his room, and so died of suffocation and blood poisoning.

During 1881, there were five unusual cases in England; two persons blew
themselves up with gunpowder, one person burned himself to death, one
died of voluntary starvation, and one died from eating horsehair.

During 1880, one suicide was caused by drinking paraffin spirit, and
another by swallowing pennies and pebbles.



It is instructive to compare the statistics of crime in general with
those of suicide; such data as are found in “Recherches sur le penchant
au Crime,” by A. Quetelet, illustrate this matter; he gives the figure
of a curve showing the amount of crime at different ages of life. This
curve rises from almost zero at ten years of age to nearly its maximum
at 20, quite its highest point at 23, and then falls evenly to half its
height at 45; thence evenly to 70, when it is at a similar position to
15 years of age, and thence evenly to zero at the age of 100 years.
These proportions are found to exist at the present time in our own
country. Among women the maximum falls a little later in life than
among men, viz., at 30 years of age. Of crime in general, one woman is
convicted to four men.

The seasons disclose a peculiar proportion; in summer there are most
crimes against the person, fewest against property; in winter, fewest
crimes against the person, most against property.

Officials and professional men are more prone to commit crimes against
the person than against property; labourers and mechanics commit more
crimes against property than against the person. Celibacy contributes
60 out of 100 criminals. It seems tolerably certain that one-half
of insane persons, two-thirds of the poor, and three-fourths of all
criminals are persons who have drunk to excess.

I add in this place, figures shewing the present decrease of crime
in England and Scotland, to which reference was made in the preface.
This diminution may be, in some part, due to an increase of the police
force, and to the greater efficiency of these officers. If these be the
real causes of the improvement, and not increased morality, the reason
why the suicide rate is not decreasing becomes explained, because, as
I point out elsewhere, the police are almost powerless to control the
perpetration of suicide.

The number of persons committed for criminal trial in 1882 was
15,260; this shews a diminution of 381 upon the average of five years
precedent. In Scotland, 2,692 persons were committed for trial against
2,859, the average for the five years immediately preceding. The total
number of “persons of bad character known to the police” in England is
also diminished in 1882, being 38,966, against 39,161 in the previous
year, and compared to 46,877 in the year 1872.

Sir John Lubbock has lately called attention to the diminished amount
of English crime at the present time, and attributes it to the spread
of education. Mr. Justice Smith has also spoken on the same point,
but hesitates to assign education as the cause of the improvement; he
mentions another remarkable point, that the highest rates of criminal
violence are associated with the population earning the highest wages,
chiefly through the greater amount of alcoholic liquors so consumed.

Suicide certainly has points of difference to other crimes of violence;
the wicked ones of earth are not those who specially practice it.
Education checks crime, although under the influence of increased
mental tension self-sacrifice is more rife; alcohol increases crime
and suicide also; this I believe to be due to the fact that habitual
alcoholic excess lessens the controlling power of the conscience,
and renders the mind less able to withstand the tension induced by

The prevalence of suicide is every day attributed to the progress of
immorality; I associate it as much with the development of thought.

Savages, implacable in their hate, ferocious in their vengeance, and
atrocious in their pleasures, do not commit it, although they kill
their old people, and do not hesitate to drink from the skulls of their
enemies. It was not common among any of the great nations of old until
they became cultivated intellectually. Compare Regnault on Mental


The relative proportion between suicides and suicidal attempts has been
the subject of much difference of opinion.

It is a common idea that many attempts are made with a view to coerce
or influence relations and friends, attempts which, in fact, are not
intended to be successful, although they sometimes succeed.

In general, if a second attempt be made, after a fruitless effort, and
especially after recovery from injury, the patient is insane. Attempts
at suicide by cutting very frequently fail, as do attempts by the use
of fire-arms; but on the other hand, death is much more certain if
drowning or hanging has been the means used.

In cases of poisoning, also, the victims are often found half dead,
and skilful treatment restores a great number. In a recent case a man
threw himself between the rails in front of an advancing train, and
yet escaped without any injury; but such attempts are almost certain

Ogston (Ed. Med. Journal, Feb. 1885) narrates a very interesting and
instructive case of suicide: the deceased had evidently made repeated
attempts to kill himself with a razor; six incisions were visible on
the chest and five on the neck, but the unfortunate man finding himself
not dying fast enough, had finally cast himself into the sea, and was

In view of the great uncertainty existing as to the relation between
attempted and completed self-destruction, I made a special appeal to
the medical profession in this country, through the medical journals,
for information, but received only few replies. As a rule, hospital
medical officers consider that attempts far outnumber successes,
whilst general practitioners incline to the opinion that failures
are less frequent. As a summary of all the cases reported to me, the
numbers were in the relative proportion of 21 failures to 12 completed
instances. I have already said how difficult it is to form a correct
estimate of the number of suicides (see page 58); the sources of error
are still more numerous when we attempt to estimate the number of
unsuccessful attempts. The police are entirely at a loss to supply any
valuable information as to the proportion of attempts. I consider that
they are not concerned in a third of such instances; they only hear of
those cases that occur in the public streets, or in lodging houses,
or in the parks; or of those attempts at drowning, which are at times
frequent, by jumping from the bridges, especially in London.

“Of one hundred persons,” says Esquirol, “who attempt suicide only
forty succeed.” Brierre de Boismont says, “for one suicide there are
two attempts.” Legoyt has ascertained that in Dublin, 1874-76, for
three years the proportions (known to the police) were 41 successes
and 123 attempts. He also calculates that in the countries of Europe,
excluding Turkey, there are annually 28,000 persons who attempt to
kill themselves, and 22,000 succeed. The Statistical Society published
in Vol. I. of their Journal the following figures; in one year, 75
completed to 47 attempts; in another, 117 completed to 58 attempted;
these were London cases, and the numbers were, I believe, procured from
the police registers. During a period of nine years, 4,595 suicides
were registered in Paris, and 1,864 suicidal failures. In Baden, during
two years, 417 suicides were discovered, whilst the official records
show only 22 cases of attempted suicide.

The attempt to commit suicide is much less liable to interruption
than attempted murder. There is no resistance from the opponent to
be allowed for, and it is easy to evade the officers of the law by
attempting the act when alone. As a matter of fact, it is a rare event
for anyone to commit suicide when in company with others. The majority
of suicides are not discovered until after death.

Comte considers it a folly of lawmakers to think that enactments can
check the act.

Heber, “Journey through India,” calls attention to the very small
amount of success, during many years, which English officials achieved
in preventing suicidal drowning at Benares and elsewhere in British
India, by means of legal enactments.


Suicide, as before described, is a felony; the attempt to commit a
felony is in the eye of the English law a misdemeanour; consult R.
_v._ Higgins, 2 East., 8; and R. _v._ Martin, 9 C. and P. 213-215. An
attempt at Felo-de-se is a misdemeanour over which the quarter sessions
have jurisdiction; but it is not an attempt to commit murder within the
meaning of the Act 24 & 25 Vict, c. 100, _see_ R. _v._ Burgess, 1. L.
and C. 258, 32 L. J., M. C. 56.

When the police hear of an attempt at suicide, the culprit is taken in
charge by them; if seriously injured the patient is watched in hospital
by a police officer. It is customary to charge the offender before the
magistrates as soon as practicable; in such a case it is more usual
to bind over the prisoner to “keep the peace,” than it is to send the
case for trial; if there be any evidence of insanity, the prisoner is
examined by the police surgeon and another medical man; and if found to
be insane is certified as such, and confined in an asylum.

I cannot refrain from saying that both law and custom with respect to
Suicide are in a very unsatisfactory and anomalous state. On the one
hand, self-murder is ranked by the law as a _felony_, one of the worst
of crimes;─on the other hand, hardly one suicide a year is called a
_felon_. Suicide is not in law any proof of the existence of insanity,
yet no sooner is the suicide quite dead, than almost every one cries
out that he was insane. Again, an attempt at suicide is a misdemeanour
punishable by imprisonment, yet a person caught in the act and taken
before the magistrates is generally dismissed from custody, not because
of insanity, certainly not, because if that were the plea, he would be
sent to an asylum, and not set free; but let the culprit presently die
from a cause dependent on the suicidal injury, and the verdict will
be that he was insane. Surely such incongruities cannot be allowed to
exist much longer.



The information conveyed in the preceding pages, in reference to
suicide in England, and in the countries of Europe, applies in a small
degree only to Hindostan. In this vast tract of country, including many
separate states, some of which are still under native rulers, and in
which very different religious beliefs exist, and are practised side by
side, the suicidal tendencies are very varied. The habits and customs
of the several races are so entirely distinct in many points, that no
surprise need be felt when we observe the very different attitudes
these hold in respect to self-destruction. The Mohammedan races avoid
it; the Brahmins encourage it in their religious customs, and in their
social life; whilst the floating British population exhibits a slightly
higher rate than that of the British at home.

The laws respecting suicide in the districts under British rule, are
enacted by the Indian Penal Code, cap. xvi., ss. 300, 305, 306, 309.

For other regulations refer to s. 19 of Reg. xix. of 1807; and Nizamut
Adawlut Reports, Vol. iii. of 1833.

The average suicide rate for India, as a whole, I estimate at 40 per
million; the rate for the city of Calcutta alone was estimated some
years ago as high as one in 2,000.

Statistics of suicide are unfortunately even less reliable in respect
to India than they are in regard to Europe, for it is to be feared that
a very large number of murders are hidden by want of evidence, and by
false statements, under the garb of voluntary death. The Hindoos of the
lower class have the very faintest idea of the value of truth for its
own sake, and Hindoo evidence can be manufactured at a low price in any

The causation of the suicides of the natives of Hindostan falls into
four chief divisions (Chevers), upon each of which I add a few remarks.


Although less common at the present time than formerly, cases are still
seen in which a man or woman will commit suicide to spite another, and
call down the opprobrium of the neighbours on him for some injury, or
fancied slight, such deaths were called _chandi_, or self-immolation;
the Rajpoot class greatly practised it; they would protest against
a decree, and then stab themselves as a final protest. Another form
was _dhurna_, sitting at an enemy’s door and waiting for death by
starvation, hoping to bring down a curse on the offender. The erection
of a _koor_, or wood pile, for conflagration, and self-burning
thereon, with or without the offering of some animal, was also a
process designed to invoke curses on an opponent. Cases have also been
observed is which a man has cut his throat in a neighbour’s house, so
that the neighbour might be accused of murder, and so be made to suffer
the penalty for that crime. A fakir has been known to set himself on
fire, to excite charity; and a Brahmin has thrown himself into a well,
that his ghost might haunt the owner of it.─Esdaile.


The Brahmin religion has had for ages a tenet that self-sacrifice is
the most acceptable offering to deity, and five modes of great sanctity
are enumerated: 1. Starvation; 2. Burying alive; 3. Drowning in the
Ganges; 4. Covering the body with dried cow dung, and setting it on
fire; and 5. Cutting the throat at the mouth of the Ganges. See the
“Ayeen Akbery.” To throw oneself off the precipices of the Mahadeo
hills was also a sacred act (Sleeman), and perhaps above all was deemed
the death by crushing under the wheels of the Car of Juggernath.

A collateral religious rite is _sati_, or the enforced burning of
widows after the death of the husband; this martyrdom is now almost
extinct, except perhaps in the native-governed states. It was very
prevalent as late as 1803, in which year no less than 275 wives were
burned within 30 miles of Calcutta.

A male Hindoo will also occasionally burn himself on a wood pile even
now, just as did Calanus in the time of Alexander the Great. See
“Friend of India,” 1866.

Forbes describes several cases in which Brahmin devotees forced
themselves to continue eating until their deaths took place.


Suicide as a means of relief from pain and disease is common in
Bengal; the sacred books named the Shastras inculcate the doctrine of
its propriety in such cases. In former times these deaths took place
with public ceremonials, but are now perforce privately completed.
Intestinal worms seem to produce great physical pain and discomfort
among the poor rice-eating Bengalese, and suicide is not infrequent
from this cause.─Woodford.


The Hindoos seem to be very sensitive to some trifling annoyances,
which the Englishman would take no notice of, and suicides are
not uncommonly the effect of insults and imputations. Thus, the
Commissioner of the Chota Nagpore district mentioned the case of a
woman who poisoned herself because her husband complained of her
untidiness, and another because she was asked to feed her own child,
instead of being provided with a nurse. A wife killed herself because a
friend told her that her husband was illegitimate.─Bellasis.

Forbes mentions that when he was at Dhuboy suicide was very common
among Hindoo widows of the upper classes, who being interdicted from
marriage threw themselves into the wells after perceiving the results
of their imprudences. Jealousy is also a very fertile cause of suicide
among Hindoo women.

The means used for committing suicide in India are among females almost
always drowning, especially in wells, and among the males drowning and
hanging are about equally common.─Muir of Madras.



It is a terrible thought that our much boasted civilisation and modern
educational advantages bring with them a suicide rate which nothing so
far has been found to check.

The struggle for existence, at our present high pressure, ends in the
survival of the strongest and most able; the weaker in body, and the
feebler in mind, get pushed aside and pass away before their due time
by disease and self-destruction.

What can be done? the wheel of progress cannot be stopped because it
crushes some victims in its onward course. The abolition of monopolies,
and even the reforms of land holding, land conveyance, the refusal
of special advantages to primogeniture, and the schemes of trade
unionists, now being agitated, cannot do away with poverty. “The poor
ye have always with you,” said Jesus, and He no doubt meant, “and
always shall have,” in this probationary world. If only the grand
principle of “moderation in all things” were more thoroughly followed
out to its legitimate conclusion, many deaths due to the extremes
which so many strive after, might be avoided; peace, health, and
competence should be our aim, not wealth and extravagance; and the
waves of commercial depression which so repeatedly occur are but the
sequence of commercial exaggeration, and follow upon over-inflated

However various may be the opinions regarding the mental state of
suicides, there is no practical dissent from the acknowledgment of the
desirability of preventing the commission of suicide.

For our purpose, then, it will suffice to consider, on the one hand,
what means are necessary to restrain patients who are acknowledged to
be insane; and on the other hand, what measures are permissible to
dissuade and prevent those in trouble or pain from taking their own
lives; such means will be equally available whether we think these
sufferers sane in their deaths, or insane from the time when they
attempt the destruction of their lives.

There are doubtless cases of suicide in which it is impossible to
decide as to the mental state of the patient; no definition of insanity
has ever yet been agreed to, and probably never will; and until medical
science has advanced so far as to be able to estimate how much grief
or pain a man can support without attempting to evade his sufferings,
there always will be voluntary deaths of persons who are so notoriously
sane as to forbid the application of restraint. Yet survivors will
postulate a momentary insanity, when such persons shall have destroyed
themselves to avoid the possibility of an error of judgment.


In a work such as this, intended not entirely for physicians, but also
for students of Social Science, I do not think it fitting to enter into
particulars as to the exact means of treating the suicidal propensity
in such cases, nor do I suggest any definite medical prescriptions to
relieve collateral symptoms; such may be safely left in the hands of
the skilful physician. I have only to insist on the urgent necessity
that exists for the immediate removal from society of any person
exhibiting mind failure, who shows any tendency to self-destruction;
and even if suicide be not definitely threatened, no time should be
lost in commencing the care and treatment of a lunatic.

And, again, the means of treatment, and, if necessary, of coercion of
those definitely of weak, or of unsound mind, fall to the alienist.

The whole question of Asylum treatment is now under consideration;
whether any private establishments at all should exist, is debated
with zeal; the further question of whether the treatment and care of
the insane ought not to be begun and perhaps continued, just as is the
treatment of bodily disease, without any formal certification, has also
been broached of late, by an editorial in the “Lancet” of last year.
These questions do not fall within the scope of a treatise on “Suicide
as a fact.” The managers and attendants in English asylums may at any
rate be congratulated on their care of their patients in this matter,
for the rate of suicide in asylums is but 1 per 1,000 annually.

Many once popular modes of treatment of insane persons are now almost
forgotten, just as many modes of treating bodily diseases have

As a preventive of suicide in melancholia, the noted Avenbrugger
recommended that the patient should be made to drink a pint of cold
water every hour, whilst his feet were wrapped in flannel. Hufeland
also advised the ingestion of plenty of cold water for mania. The
eminent alienist Burrows recommended emetics, bleeding, and warm baths,
accompanied by cold douche to the head, as measures fitted to remove
the suicidal propensity. The means recommended by Brierre de Boismont
for avoiding the suicidal propensity in the insane were the persistent
use of morphia to ensure sleep, and the prolonged use of baths,
the continuous immersion of the body for four, five, or six hours.
Griesinger remarks that medication is of no use, and that mechanical
restraint does not remove the tendency, even if it renders the act
impossible for the time; nothing but constant watching is of any avail
until the inclination passes off.

It has been suggested by many physicians that bleeding would remove
the suicidal tendency in cases where it is associated with cerebral
irritation, congestion, or inflammation.

Several cases of cut-throat are on record, in which the patient, who
had just been raving, became sane after the bleeding which followed his
act: Dr. Southwood Smith mentions this, see “Philosophy of Health,”
vol. i., p. 109; and the elder Disraeli mentions that a surgeon
narrated such a case to him. See “Curiosities of Literature.” The case
of the late Sir Samuel Romilly was one example of this point; the
bleeding restored his senses, and he did all in his power to check the
hæmorrhage. See Wynter. “Borderlands of Insanity.”

Suicidal patients require most watching early in the morning; a good
lunch often dispels the tendency for the day. During convalescence from
mania, &c., relapses into suicidal condition are very common, and it is
frequently in these remissions that nurses become less watchful just
when they should be vigilant, and the act is committed.

When the tendency is the result of alcoholism, we are met by this
difficulty; restraint is needed, and yet no one has the power to
enforce restraint; the physician succeeds well enough in relieving
the alcoholic delirium and coincident risk of suicide, perhaps time
after time; but is powerless to prevent a succeeding attack. Unless a
sufferer can be induced to volunteer his entry into a retreat, there
are no means of saving him from himself. So long as a man is sensible
when sober, be it only for an hour a day, he is beyond the reach of
compulsory cure.

In the suicidal mania of parturition, on the other hand, the patient
is happy in being already, from her state, under the practical control
of her medical attendant, and hence such cases are almost always
restrained successfully.

The essence of impulsive insanity is its occurrence without any
warning; yet many such suicides might be prevented by a more careful
observation on the part of the companions of a patient. Whenever there
be any hereditary taint of insanity, or of dipsomania, or of chronic
nervous disease, or epilepsy; if there be heredity of self-destruction,
or if there have been a previous attack of insanity, or if there
be insomnia, the slightest symptoms of mental alteration should be
watched for; alterations of conduct, the attitude of suspicion, or of
self-accusation, or of unnecessary melancholy. The facial expression
will frequently raise the alarm; the restless uneasy eye, and ever
varying play of the muscles of the face in one case; and the settled
glare of the eye, and expressionless features in another, should warn
observers of an approaching crisis of disordered intellect.


The suicidal tendency so often coexists, either with straightened
circumstances, or sudden deprivation of income, that the very modes of
treatment most likely to remove the tendency are by these very causes
rendered impracticable. Temporary abstention from duty or business,
coupled with change of climate and scene, would doubtless cure a very
large percentage of cases, but it is exactly the inability to drop the
chains of employment, and the absence of the monetary means for travel
which are lacking.

The means of cure when they are practicable are obvious enough to any
physician; a healthy and not too arduous employment; change of air, and
scene; and of companionship; the improvement of the bodily health, the
exhibition of nervine tonics; and last, but not by any means least, the
exercise of every possible means of making sleep a certainty.

The continuous poring over one’s troubles, and contemplating one’s
fate, without the definite lengthy intermissions given by healthy
sleep, are most fertile causes of nervous breakdown and attempted
self-destruction. The occurrence of a long night’s slumber frequently
entirely removes the pernicious intentions at which an overwrought
brain arrived over night.

I have already alluded to the debated question as to the tendencies of
religion and education.

Statistics seem to point so clearly to development of the mind and
mental tension as a cause of voluntary death, that it is probably of
no use to look to education as a cure for the suicidal tendency in

The cultivation of a religious conviction of the sanctity of life,
and the sin of a self-inflicted death is a more certain hindrance to
suicide. Persons who are unable to obtain this mental conviction, are,
I believe, more prone to take their lives in time of trouble, and
beyond good advice and the care of their friends, I do not know that
any means exist to restrain them. See Legoyt, Esquirol, Cazeauvieile
and Descuret.

A man has a strong natural claim on his relations to take care of him
when he meets with an accident, or is bodily ill, and it is always
admitted; the same claim exists that he should be protected against
himself, not only when insane, but when in great mental perturbation,
misery or despair. Nothing but a constant watchfulness will suffice to
restrain some persons from ending a life of present wretchedness, and
enable them to experience the better times, which are very often in the

Among measures of precaution, the removal of suggestive weapons, and of
books and papers likely to bring to recollection instances of crime or
self-destruction, must not be omitted.

Every effort should be made to secure full occupation for the mind of a
composing character if possible; ennui or tædium vitæ is an important
predisposing influence.

Of the numerous French authors on suicide, the first rank is held by
Brierre de Boismont; his suggestions for the prevention of suicide,
among reasonable persons, _i.e._, not insane, are to avoid sadness,
to procure a family, and to follow some business; and with regard
to religion, he advises the confessional and the cloister. Ebrard
also extols these two means of cure; of the latter remedy I have no
experience, and the former is not likely to be much used in this

“We are attacked by many moral and social ills; there is much madness
in our heads, and many evil passions, and weaknesses in our hearts; but
the sources of purity are not dried up, the springs of human energy are
not exhausted. Let us hope then, let us hope!”



The question “to what extent does the mind of one of the lower animals
resemble that of man,” has been argued by many able men, but no very
definite decision has been arrived at. The point is of prime importance
in a consideration of whether animals can commit suicide; I mean
“can animals kill themselves intentionally, either as the result of
consideration and choice, or of impulse?”

No one doubts that animals may die from some voluntary action of their
own; for example, a dog may die of eating poisoned food, or a horse
may die from a blow caused by jumping over a space with insufficient
caution and observation, or a monkey may cut his throat by imitating
a man shaving; similar deaths would not be called suicide in man. The
tendency of the present day is rather in favour of granting to the
lower beings of creation a larger share of intelligence than used to be
assigned to them. Not many years ago it was almost universally granted
that animals had no soul, and no future life, and only a limited
instinct in this life; no reasoning powers, and no foreknowledge of
approaching death; all these points have of late years been declared to
be uncertain.

If we deny to animals powers of reflection and knowledge of a
necessary death, it is not possible to assent to the statement that an
animal can in its own mind decide to end its life at any certain time.

Some animals, certainly, protest against entering a yard where others
have been slaughtered, as if the smell of blood suggested their fate
to them, but what we understand as instinct suffices to explain this
terror. Birds of prey are known to detect by sight or smell when an
animal is about to die; this again is the instinct provided to supply
them with food.

If it be true that a scorpion will sting itself to death when irritated
beyond measure, I should be inclined to think that it perishes in its
efforts to sting its enemies; or if not, I should imagine that the
action resembles that of a man tearing his hair from anger, when he
cannot injure his opponent. And the same ideas will apply to the case
of the bee, which is similarly said to kill itself in wounding its

Wild birds will refuse food and die, if confined in a cage; and the
survivor of a pair of tame birds, after the death of his mate, is often
noticed to refuse food and rapidly die of exhaustion; but I should
explain such cases by saying that the loss had made so intense an
impression on the creature’s consciousness as to supersede the impulse
to feed itself.

I myself remember seeing a healthy little dog refuse food, pine away
and die, when its young mistress, who had for months hourly petted
it, became a mother, and the dog became neglected; its death was from
neglect of a voluntary action, but was it volitional?

Regnault, Elias, in his work on Mental Alienation, decides against the
possibility of the lower animals ever effecting a voluntary death; he
says, “Suicide is the most energetic assertion of man’s superiority;
why do not animals conceive and execute it? Because their nature is
entirely passive; to them the choice of life or death is not given;
man, on the contrary, eminently free and active, is able to extend his
energy even as far as self-destruction.”

Narratives of the deaths of animals, especially when these have
been pets, are apt to be very unreliable, from the infusion of
sentiment, and many of the anecdotes of suicide of animals which I
have investigated have a semi-mythical character. The stories to
which I give references would close the controversy as to whether
animals ever do, or do not commit suicide, _i. e._, kill themselves
with the intention of ending their lives, and not accidentally nor
inadvertently, if they could be relied on to possess anything like
scientific accuracy. Most of them have been published in newspapers,
&c., where errors would be liable to suffer correction.

Aristotle narrates that a horse having been induced to have connection
with his own dam, by the artifice of veiling her, for he had refused to
do so previously, on seeing what he had done, jumped intentionally from
a cliff, and was killed by the fall. See History of Animals, lib. ix.,
cap. 47.

But Professor Axe, of the Royal Veterinary College, tells me that he
has never heard of _such_ a refusal on the part of a horse, neither
has he ever observed any instance which seemed to him to point to the
intentional self-destruction of any animal.

There is an old story mentioned in Boswell’s Life of Johnson, that a
scorpion if irritated by placing it within a ring of burning coals,
will thrust its own sting into itself, and so commit suicide; Dr.
Johnson doubted it, and remarked that Maupertuis did not credit it.

Bory de St. Vincent, in the classic “Dictionnaire d’Histoire
Naturelle,” vol. 15, says he has tried the experiment, and the
scorpions simply became suffocated.

There is reference to the suicide of scorpions in Nature, Vol. xi., p.
29, which speaks of irritating a scorpion by means of a burning glass,
with the same result. In the next week’s number, p. 47, is another
mention of a similar observation. At Vol. xx., p. 553, a writer denies
the possibility of a scorpion striking itself, whilst at p. 577, Prof.
Allen Thompson details hearsay instances of scorpions forcibly piercing
their own heads by their recurved stings, when annoyed by a bright

Youatt, Wm., V. S., tells the story of an artillery horse which refused
food, and died from starvation, after the death of another horse, with
which he had long worked. See “The Horse.”

Dr. W. L. Lindsay is a copious writer on this subject. He fully
believes in animal suicide, and speaks of old age, wounded feelings,
pain, desperation, continued ill usage, captivity, and self-sacrifice
as causes; and states that he has notes of instances occurring in the
dog, horse, mule, camel, llama, ass, monkey, seal and deer; stork,
cock, jackdaw and duck; spider and scorpion; he narrates also some of
the cases for which I have given references. See “Mind in the Lower

He gives also many very interesting examples of accidental
self-destruction, such as the strangling of horses by their halters,
when endeavouring to escape from a stable; that monkeys have cut their
throats from imitating a man shaving; and that mice have been poisoned
by eating greenbacks.

Some sorts of fish, as salmon, have been noticed to throw themselves
out of the water, but it seems very doubtful whether this act is meant
to be suicidal.

Voluntary deaths of animals during panic and terror, and from
fascination, seem to intervene between accidental suicides, and
suicides which appear to be the result of choice; such deaths are
caused by the headlong flight of sheep when worried by a dog, or are
caused by fires on the prairies; or by fascination, as seen in the case
of moths in a candle flame.

Other instances of apparent suicide may be consulted, viz.:─

  Suicide of,─

 Dogs, by a railway train, see Freeman’s Journal, Dublin, 1878.

 Some fowls, by drowning. Sir S. Baker. The Albert Nyanza. 1876.

 Deer in America. Dr. Pierquin. Traité de la folie. 1839.

 Storks in conflagrations. Houzeau, J. C. Etudes sur les facultés
 mentales des animaux. 1872.

 Pike, from pain. Watson, J. S. The Reasoning Power of Animals. 1870.

 Dog, from the pain of a seton. Wynter.

 Spider. Gillies, R. On the Habits of Spiders. 1876.

 Dog, by drowning. Shrewsbury Chronicle. Oct. 25, 1878.

 Cat, by drowning. Notes and Queries. Oct. 19, 1878.

 Dog, by drowning. Notes and Queries. June, 25, 1884.

 Horse by drowning. The Veterinarian. Aug. 1864.

 Cat, by drowning. Stamford Mercury. Aug. 16, 1878.

 Horse, by drowning, at Alloa. July 1876.

 Elk. Sir S. Baker. Eight years in Ceylon. 1874.

 Dog, from madness. Dr. Macdonald. Times. Oct. 1874.

 Dog, from pain of a wound. Dundee Advertiser. 1874.

 „ „ old age. Northern Ensign. July 20, 1870.

 „ „ „ Norris (Lindsay.)

 „ „ old age and pain. Morris. (Lindsay.)

 „ „ broken legs, North British Daily Mail. 1876.

 Monkey. Forbes. (Lindsay.)

 Canvas-back Duck. Gillmore, P., Prairie and Forest. 1874.



To obtain this information application was made to each of the offices
mentioned, for a prospectus which should include the regulations with
respect to forfeiture of policies. I find by analysis that there are
seven varieties in the proceedings of the companies, and in all of them
assigned policies are indisputable.

 A.─Policy is void by suicide:─Crown, Hand-in-Hand, Law, Rock,
 Provident, and Royal Exchange.

 Of these, however─

   Hand-in-Hand _may_ return premiums and interest.

   Law _may_ pay a sum of money if the directors think fit.

   Provident _may_ pay a surrender value.

   Crown _may_ make a reasonable allowance unless the suicide be

B.─Policy is not void after five years’ existence:─Atlas, Gresham,
Mutual (if assured be 30 years old), Prudential, Whittington, Sun.

C.─Policy is not void after three years’ existence:─Alliance, British
Empire, Norwich Union, Pelican.

D.─Policy is not void after two years:─Star, Commercial Union.

 E.─Policy is not void after 13 months:─Guardian; London Assurance

 F.─Policy is not void after one year:─Clerical, Medical, and General;
 Legal and General; Liverpool, London, and Globe.

 G.─No mention is made of suicide in the prospectuses of the following
 companies:─Equitable; London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow; Economic; New
 York; Northern; Royal; Scottish Amicable; Union; West of England.

The Union, and West of England, have a clause that “No claim is
disputed unless there is palpable fraud.”

Of these thirty-two companies only one makes a distinction between
suicide of the insane, and felo-de-se, viz., the Crown.


 Agabeg and Harris. Principles of the Criminal Law, 3rd ed. 1884.

 American Journal of Medical Science. 1878. See Palmer, O. H., and
 Gray, J. P.

 Anti-hegesias. A French Poem on Suicide, critical and historical. 1763.

 Baer, A. Der Alcoolismus. 1878.

 Bareuc. Reflexions sur le Suicide. 1789.

 Beccaria, Bonesana C. On Crimes and Punishments, an essay. 1777.

 Beck, John B. Elements of Medical Jurisprudence. 1842.

 Bentham, Jeremy. Principles of Penal Law. 1843.

 Bertrand, Louis. Traité du Suicide. 1857.

 Block, Georg. Vom Selbstmord. 1792.

 Bonomi. Del Suicidio in Italia. 1878.

 Bourdin, Dr. C. E. Du Suicide. 1845.

 Briand, J., and Chaudé, E. Manuel complet de Médecine Légale. 1880.

 Brierre de Boismont, Alexander. Du Suicide. 1856.

 British Medical Journal.

 Brouc. Considerations sur le Suicide de notre epoque. 1836.

 Bucknill and Tuke. A Manual of Psychological Medicine. 4th ed. 1879.

 Buckle, H. T. History of Civilization in England. 1869.

 Bunyon, C. T. A Treatise on Life Assurance. 18.

 Buonafede, Appiano. Histoire de Suicide. 1762 and 1843.

 Burdach. Traité de Physiologie. 1841.

 Burrows, G. M. Commentaries on Insanity. 1828.

 Camp, Maxime du. Memoires d’un Suicide. 1855.

 Caro, E. Le Suicide dans ses rapports avec le civilisation. 1856.

 Carpenter, W. B. Principles of Mental Physiology. 4th ed. 1876.

 Casper, J. L. Forensic Medicine, translated from the German by J. W.
 Balfour. 1861-5.

 Cazauvieilh, J. B. Du Suicide. 1840.

 Chevers, Norman. The Medical Jurisprudence of India. 1870.

 Chevrey, J. Etude Médicale sur le Suicide. 1816.

 Chitty, Joseph, the Elder. Medical Jurisprudence. 1834.

 Connoisseur, The. No. 50. 1755.

 Dabadie, F. Les Suicides Illustres. Vol. I. 1859.

 David. Note sur le Suicide en Danemark. 1860.

 Debreyne, M. Du Suicide. 1847.

 Descuret, J. B. F. La Médecine des Passions. 1841.

 Despine, Prosper. Psychologie Naturelle. 1868.

 Dictionnaire des Sciences Médicales. Art. Suicide, by Esquirol.

 Douay, Edmond. Le Suicide. 1870.

 Dumas, Jean. Traité du Suicide. 1773.

 Ebrard, N. Du Suicide. 1871.

 Elam, Ch. A Physician’s Problems.

 Espine, Marc de. Essai analytique de Statistique Mortuaire Comparée.

 Esquirol, E. Maladies Mentales, 1838, and Article S. in Dict. des
 Sciences Médicales.

 Etangs, Des. Du Suicide Politique. 1860.

 Falret, J. P. De l’hypochondrie et du Suicide. 1822.

 Farr, A. Reports of Registration of Deaths.

 Foderé, F. E. Traité de Médicine Légale. 1813.

 Formey, J. H. S. Mélanges philosophiques. Berlin, 1754.

 Franklin, R. V. De la Philosophie et de la Morale du Suicide. 1835.

 Gentleman’s Magazine. Vol. xxv. 1755.

 Girardin, St. Marc de. Du Suicide et de la Haine de la Vie. 1843.

 Goethe, J. W. Von. The Sorrows of Werter. 1774.

 Gru, Eugène. Les Morts Violents. 1864.

 Hecker. De Autokeiria Martyrum. 1720.

 Holbach, Paul de. Le Système de la Nature. 1770.

 Indian Medical Gazette.

 Jaccoud. Nouveau Dictionnaire de Médecine. Art. Suicide. 1883.

 Jervis, Sir John. Office and Duties of Coroners, by Melsheimer, R.E.

 Josephus, Flavius, Works of.

 Jousset, P. G. Du Suicide, 1858, and Sur le Rage, 1868.

 Kayser. La Statistique Officielle du Suicide en Norvege. 1852.

 Lancet, The.

 Laverdy. Code Penal.

 Lecky, W. E. H. History of European Morals.

 Legoyt, A. Le Suicide. 1881.

 Leibnitz, C. W. Von. Du Suicide. 1865.

 Leroy, Dr. Etudes sur le Suicide. 1870.

 Lisle, E. Du Suicide. 1856.

 Lunacy Commissioners, Returns of the.

 Luys, J. Des Maladies Hereditaires. 1863.

 Marc, C. C. H. De la Folie. 1840.

 Maudsley, Henry. Insanity and Crime, 1864, and Body and Mind, 1873.

 Medical Critic. 1861, 1862.

 Medical Times and Gazette.

 Mental Science Asylum, Journal of.

 Merian, De. Discours sur la crainte de la Mort, et sur le Suicide.

 Mesnier, L. J. E. Du Suicide dans l’Armée. 1881.

 Millar, W, H. Suicide in the Army. See Journal of the Statistical
 Society. 1874.

 Montaigne, Michel de, Essays of. 1580.

 Moore, C. A Full Enquiry into Suicide. 1790.

 Morselli, Enrico. Il Suicidio. Milan, 1879, and Suicide, an abridged
 translation, London, 1881.

 Montesquieu, C. de S. Lettres Persanes. Nos. 74 and 76.

 Nizamut Adawlut. Reports of Criminal Cases in India.

 Oettingen. Ueber Acuten und Chronischen Selbstmord. 1881.

 Ogston, Francis. Lectures on Medical Jurisprudence. 1878.

 Osiander. Ueber den Selbstmord, 1813.

 Paley, W. Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy. 1785.

 Parent Du Chatélet. Hygiène Publique, 1836, and De la Prostitution,

 Paris and Fonblanque. Medical Jurisprudence. 1823.

 Plutarch. Life of Alexander the Great.

 Pope, H. M. Law and Practice of Lunacy. 1877.

 Prévost. Notes sur le Suicide dans le Canton de Genève. 1836.

 Psychological Medicine, Journal of, 1859, 1878, 1879, 1882.

 Quetelet, L. A. J. De l’homme, 1835, and Essai de Statistique Morale,

 Radcliffe, J. N. Suicide Fields.

 Ravizza, C. Il Suicidio. Milan. 1878.

 Ray, Isaac. Medical Jurisprudence and Insanity. 1839.

 Registrar General, Reports of. Annual.

 Regnault, Elias. Nouvelles Reflexions sur le Suicide. 1830.

 Rousseau, J. J. La Nouvelle Heloise. Letters xxi. and xxii. Part iii.

 Salomon, Bromberg. Welche sind die Ursachen der in neuester Zeit so
 sehr überhand nehmenden Selbstmorden. 1861.

 Sleeman, W. H. Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official. 1884.

 Smith’s Annals of Indian Administration.

 Social Science Review. 1862 _et seq._

 Stael, Mme. de. Influence des Passions, 1817. Reflexions sur le
 Suicide, 1820.

 Staeudlin, C. F. Geschichte der Vorstellungen und Lehren vom
 Selbstmorde. 1824.

 Statistical Society, Journal of.

 Stephen, Sir J. F. A Digest of the Criminal Law, 1877, and a History
 of the Criminal Law of England. 1883.

 Suicide, an Elegy. 1775.

 Suicide, its Guilt and Punishment, in S. P. C. K. series. 1836.

 Suicide, on. Rel. Tract Soc. 1830.

 Szafkowski, L. F. De la Mort volontaire. 1840.

 Tardieu, A. A. Etude Médico-Legale. 1870.

 Taylor, A. S. Medical Jurisprudence; edited by Stevenson. 1883.

 Tissot, J. La Manie du Suicide. 1840.

 Tissot, J. Le Droit Penal. 1860.

 Tissot, S. A. Onanisme. 5th ed. 1781.

 Trousseau, A. Clinical Medicine. 1867-71, transl. by the New Sydenham

 Voltaire. F. M. Arouet de. Dictionnaire Philosophique. 1765.

 Wagner, Adolph. Die Gesetzmässigkeit in den scheinbar willkürlichen
 menschlichen Handlungen vom Standpunkte der Statistik. 1864.

 Wharton, Francis. Mental Unsoundness. 1855.

 Wharton and Stillé. Medical Jurisprudence. 1873.

 Winslow, Forbes. The Anatomy of Suicide. 1840.

 World, The, No. 193. Sept. 1756.


  Abercrombie on Suicide, 124.

  Advanced Views on Suicide, 5.

  Afghan Surgeon, Suicide of an, 121.

  Age, Effect of, 109.

  Alcohol, Abuse of, 136, 156, 170.

  Animals, Suicide of, 174.

  Anomalies of Law, 160.

  Aphelion, 69.

  Archway at Highgate, 131.

  Aristotle on Suicide, 9, 91, 176.

  Army, Suicide in the, 98.

  Assurance Companies, 180.

  Asylums, Foreign, 127.

  Asylums, Use of, 168.

  Athens, Ancient, 9.

  Attempted Suicide, 156.

  Attitude of Assurance Companies, 180.

  Austria, Suicide in, 61, 62, 96, 99, 146.

  Austrian Suicide Law, 50.

  Axe, Professor, on Suicide, 176.

  Bailey, Nathan, on Origin of the Name Suicide, 31.

  Balzac on Suicide, 41.

  Beccaria on Suicide, 42.

  Belgium, Suicide in, 60, 62.

  Bentham on Suicide, 47.

  Berenice, Suicide of, 16.

  Berlin, Suicide Rate in, 95.

  Bible, Suicides of the, 17.

  Bibliographical Index, 182.

  Blandford on Suicide, 120.

  Bleeding, Use of, 169.

  Blindness, Effect of, 135.

  Bodily Disease, 135.

  Bodio, Formula of, 61.

  Borrodaile _v._ Hunter, 53.

  Brahmins, Suicide among, 11, 161.

  Brierre de Boismont, 83, 106, 111, 173.

  Broussais on Causes of Suicide, 66.

  Buckmill and Tuke on Suicide, 121, 123.

  Burial of a Suicide, 45.

  Burrows _v._ Burrows, 56.

  Calanus, 11.

  Calcutta, Suicide Rate of, 162.

  Carbonic Acid Gas, 146.

  Cato, 22, 38.

  Causation, 65.

  Causes, Tables of, 70, 72, 73, 74.

  Celibacy, 112, 155.

  Ceos, 7.

  Chambers _v._ Queen’s Proctor, 57.

  Charcoal Stoves, 147.

  Chatterton, Suicide of, 132.

  Childhood, 111.

  Children, Effect of having, 114.

  China, Suicide in, 13.

  Christian Church, 3, 14.

  Chrysostom, St., 16.

  Cities, 93, 94.

  Classical Authors, 30.

      „     Suicides, 18.

  Climate, 78.

  Cloister, Use of the, 173.

  Coal Gas, Suicide by, 153.

  Colton on Suicide, 37.

  Commerce, 96.

  Confessional, 173.

  Convict Life, 100.

  Coroner, Warrant of, 45.

  Councils of the Church, 14.

  Crime, 90, 154.

  Crucifixion, 152.

  Curious means of Suicide, 153.

  Cut-throat, 146.

  Dabadie on Suicide, 121.

  Deafness, 135.

  Decrease of Crime, 155.

  Dementia, 124, 126.

  Denmark, Suicide Rate in, 60, 62, 89.

  Desfontaines, 31, 39.

  Despine on the Causes of Suicide, 67.

  Development of Mind, 156.

  Drowning, 145.

  Drunkenness, 137.

  Ecclesiastical Law, 15.

  Education increases Suicide Rate, 81, 112, 156.

  Education decreases Crime, 155.

  Egypt, Suicide in, 13.

  Elam on Suicide, 92, 133.

  Emigration, 76, 152.

  Employment, 95.

  England, Suicide in,

    „      Army of, 98.

    „      Navy of, 99.

    „      Prisons of, 100.

  Epicureans, 3, 10.

  Epilepsy, 119, 171.

  Epidemic Suicide, 129.

  Etna, Mount, 133.

  Europe, Suicide in, 151.

  Failed, Suicide, 156.

  Falls, Suicide by, 134, 146.

  Family Life, 89, 126.

  Fascination, 134.

    „          in Animals, 178.

  Felo-de-se, 43, 160.

  Female Suicide, 105, 108, 109, 110.

  Fire Arms, 145.

  Fleming, R., on Suicide, 34.

  Forfeitures by Suicide, 45, 46.

  Forms of Lunacy, 123.

  Found Drowned, 59.

  France, Laws in, 16, 50.

    „     Suicide in, 61, 62, 63, 83, 115, 151.

  Gas, Suicide by, 146, 153.

  German Law on Suicide, 49.

  Germany, Suicide Rates in, 60, 62, 87, 114, 125, 152.

  Gibbon on Suicide, 47.

  Goethe on Suicide, 41.

  Greece, Ancient, 7.

  Greek terms for Suicide, 32.

  Hamlet, 33.

  Hanging, 145.

  Hegesias, 129.

  Heredity, 138.

  Hindoos, 11.

  History of Suicide, 7.

  Holland, Suicide in, 60, 61.

  Horn _v._ Assurance Company, 55.

  Horse, Suicide of, 176.

  Hours of the Day, 106.

  Hume, David, 3, 36.

  Hysteria, 109.

  Iago on Suicide, 33.

  Imbecility, 124, 125.

  Imitation, 131.

  Increase of Suicide, 58, 60, 62.

  India, Suicide in, 161.

  Insanity, 116-128.

    „       not proved by Suicide, 47, 48, 56, 160.

  Insomnia, 136.

  Ireland, Suicide in, 150.

  Italy, Suicide in, 60, 62, 110, 113, 151.

    „    Prisons of, 101.

  Japan, Suicide in, 13.

  Jews, Suicide among the, 2, 11, 85.

    „   very liable to lunacy, 86.

  Johnson, Dr., on Suicide, 36.

    „           on Suicide of Scorpions, 177.

  Jurisprudence, Civil, 51.

    „            Criminal, 43.

  Koor in India, 162.

  Latin terms for Suicide, 31.

  Laws on Suicide, 43.

    „  Foreign, on Suicide, 49.

    „  Indian, on Suicide, 161.

  Lea River, Corpses in the, 60.

  Legoyt on Suicide, 42.

  Lindsay on Animal Suicide, 177.

  Lisle on Suicide causes, 73.

  Literature of Suicide, 29.

  London, Rate of Suicide in, 94.

    „     means of Suicide in, 149.

  Louis IX., 15.

    „   XIV., 16.

  Love Affairs, 142.

  Lunacy, 116-128.

  Lunatics, Suicide of, 44, 123.

  Lyons, Epidemic at, 130.

  MacAdam _v._ Walker, 56.

  Madness, Amount of, 125.

  Mania, 123, 125, 126.

  Marriage, 112, 114.

    „       Second, 115.

  Marseilles, 130.

  Marshes, 79.

  Martyrdom, 2.

  Maupertius, 39.

  Means of Cure, 171.

  Means of Suicide, 144.

    „        „      in India, 165.

  Medical Men, Suicide of, 143.

  Melancholia, 123, 124, 126.

  Mental Diseases,

  Metempsychosis, 2.

  Mexico, 13.

  Middle Ages, Suicides of the, 24.

  Miletus, Suicide in, 129.

  Military Life, 98.

  Modern Suicides, 24.

  Mohammedans, Suicide among, 12, 161.

  Monday, 105.

  Monomania, 123, 125, 126.

  Moon, Effect of the, 102, 104.

  Montaigne, 10, 38.

  Monument, The, 131, 133.

  Morality, 89.

  Morselli on Suicide, 29, 42, 69, 87, 100, 104.

  Moses, 2.

  Mountains, 79.

  Navy, 98, 151.

  Negroes, 14, 76.

  New York, Suicide in, 95, 152.

  Norway, Suicide in, 60, 62, 87.

  Notable Suicides, 17.

  Novels, Famous, 92.

  Nuns, 95.

  Occupation, 95.

  Odin, 14.

  Old Age, 110.

  Origin of the Name Suicide, 31.

  Othello, 33.

  Over-pressure, 112.

  Pain, Suicide from, 135, 164.

  Paine, Tom, on Suicide, 37.

  Paris, Suicide in, 132.

  Pellagra, 130.

  Perihelion, 69.

  Persia, 12.

  Peru, 13.

  Pessimism, 132.

  Philosophy encourages Suicide, 3.

  Poison, 146, 148

  Police, The, 155, 159.

  Policies voided by Suicide, 180.

  Portugal, Suicide in, 60, 87.

  Post Mortem appearances, 122.

  Predisposition, Hereditary, 138.

  Present Rates of Suicide, 58.

  Prevention, 166.

  Prison Life, 100.

  Prostitutes, 90.

  Protestantism, 85, 87.

  Protestants, Morselli’s Table of Suicide by, 87.

  Puerperal Suicide, 170.

  Quetelet on Crime, 154.

  R. _v._ Alison, 43.

  R. _v._ Dyson, 43, 48.

  R. _v._ Fisher, 48.

  R. _v._ Gathercole, 48.

  R. _v._ May, 48.

  Race, Effects of, 75.

  Railways, 96.

  Rare Means, 153.

  Regent’s Canal, 59.

  Religion, 85, 172.

  Revenge, 162.

  Revivalism, 88.

  Ritualism, 88.

  Rome, Ancient, Suicide in, 9.

    „     „      Suicide Law in, 10.

  Roman Catholics, Suicide Rates of, 85.

  Rousseau, 3, 40.

  Rural Life, 93.

  Russia, Suicide in, 145.

  Saints, Suicide of, 16.

  Salvation Army, 88.

  Sati, 163.

  Savages, 156.

  Scandinavia, 14.

  School Tasks, 112.

  Schopenhauer, 132.

  Schwabe _v._ Clift, 53.

  Scorpions, Suicide of, 176.

  Scotland, Suicide in, 149, 150.

  Seasons, Effect of the, 102, 154.

  Sex, 107, 152.

  Shakespeare, 33.

  Sleep, Value of, 172.

  Sleeplessness, 136, 172.

  Spain, Suicide in, 60, 87, 107.

  Specific Rates of Suicide, 75.

  Spiritualism, 140.

  Spite, 142.

  Stael, Madame de, 2, 40.

  Starvation, Suicide by, 152.

  Stephen, Sir J., on Suicide, 48.

  Stoics, the, 3, 10, 132.

  Stone in the Bladder, 10.

  Stoves, 147.

  Sun, Effects of the, 102.

  Suffocation as a means, 146.

  Surgeons, Suicide of, 143.

  Sunday, 105.

  Sweden. Suicide in, 60, 62, 87, 111.

  Tædium Vitæ, 141.

  Taine on Suicide, 41.

  Tall Races, 77.

  Tarantulism, 130.

  Temporary Insanity, 44, 46.

  Tendency, Morning, to Suicide, 170.

  Thames, Corpses in the, 59.

  Thomas, Dr. Danford, on Suicide from Spite, 142.

  Thebes, 9.

  Throat-cut, 146.

  Timon of Athens, 8.

  Tissot on Suicide, 49, 66.

  Town Life, 93.

  Trades, 95.

  Trousseau on Epilepsy, 119.

  Tuke and Bucknill, 121, 123.

  Urban Life, 93.

  Utopia of More, 32.

  Valhalla, 14.

  Vertigo, Epileptic, 119.

  Vesuvius, Mount, 133.

  Vindictiveness, 142.

  Virginity, 113.

  Void Policies, 180.

  Voltaire, 3, 39.

  Warrant of a Coroner, 45.

  Wars, 96, 113.

  Waterloo, Battle of, 133.

  Werter, Sorrows of, 41.

  White _v._ Brit. Emp. Co., 55.

  Widowhood, 112.

  Winslow, F., on Suicide, 29.

  Women choose Sunday for Suicide, 105.

  Youth, 110.

  Zeno, 3, 10.


  Printed by Henry Hansard and Son, near Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected.

Variations in hyphenation and accents have been standardised but
all other spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.

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