Saturday, July 5, 2008

Suicide—Restrict the Means

The New York Times has a fascinating article on suicide. It's almost a philosophical write-up of the topic. Appropriately enough, it starts out with a quote from Albert Camus: "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” I love this line that ends the last paragraph:

"Our contradictory reactions to the act speak to the conflicted hold it has on our imaginations: revulsion mixed with fascination, scorn leavened with pity. It is a cardinal sin — but change the packaging a little, and suicide assumes the guise of heroism or high passion, the stuff of literature and art."

Primarily, the piece focuses on the sometimes impulsive nature of suicide and how, if easier means of suicide are addressed and taken away, suicide numbers can be cut down. For example, if access if restricted to bridges that people jump off of, the potential jumpers don't just find another way, most of them will actually not commit suicide at all—because it was a momentary desire that led them to want it to end it all, and without the easy means to do it, they found a way to get through the problem. Obviously, there are other types of mental illness that lead to suicide, but it's a fascinating side of suicide that I had never heard of before. Some people are led to it in the heat of passion. And as you can tell from the above quote, the article is very well written.

It's a long piece, but definitely worth the read.

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