Suicide; studies on its philosophy, causes, and prevention 1882 James O'Dea, Free PDF book

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Suicide is a question partly social, partly medical; hence it may with propriety be discussed in a volume intended for intelligent readers generally. By the term, suicide is meant the intentional destruction of one's own life. It embraces all who kill themselves purposely, or, as the legal phrase expresses it, " with malice aforethought," whatever the cause of the act or the mental state of the agent.

 It excludes deaths from acts or lines of conduct which, howsoever much opposed to self-preservation, are not intended to destroy life. Although in judging examples belonging to this class it is customary to declare them suicidal, yet such declaration is rather a moral estimate of conduct tending to death than a technical deliverance as to the character of the death itself. Fundamentally, suicide has a reference to the individual viewed in the two-fold aspect of his social and personal life. It presupposes two necessary conditions :

(i) Moral and physical impressions derived from without ;

 (2) on the part of the recipient of these impressions, a nervous impressibility, which not only magnifies and distorts them but which gives them a dangerous power to affect his happiness. Hence the causes of suicide naturally fall under two main divisions, the external or social, and the internal or personal.

 The external or social order of causes is subdivisible into general and special causes of suicide. The general causes exist everywhere and under all circumstances. They have their source in extravagant religious and moral beliefs. The special causes comprise all those various circumstances and accidents which result from the relations of individuals to each other in society, — hereditary tendency, education, literature, financial losses and embarrassments, love troubles, and the rest. The personal causes include ill-health, insanity, and the important factor, temperament. These causes are set forth in the following pages, to which three chapters are added to the prevention of suicide.

Author: James O'Dea,

 Publication  1882

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