An Evolutionary Account of Suicide Attacks: The Kamikaze Case.

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Suicide and the afterlife: Popular religion and the standardization of “culture” in Japan.

For an overwhelming majority of commentators, including many anthropologists, ÔJapanese cultureÕ is still associated with a positive view of suicide. Western-language writings have contributed by feedback loop to perpetuate this stereotype. Besides the local Ôsamurai ethicÕ, Japanese Buddhism is also said not to prohibit taking oneÕs life. However, the most popular examples of heroic self-sacrifice, […]

In the Name of Freedom: Suicide, Serfdom, and Autocracy in Russia

This article seeks to illuminate the cultural frame of reference for the suicide of Miasnikov (a Russian art student) & its subsequent reception. The author first outlines the tradition of noble suicide in Russia, which arose as a direct consequence of Westernization in the eighteenth centurey & reached a highpoint with the Decembrist movement. Discussion […]

Pain and Altruism: the Suicides in John Wayne’s Films (IN: Suicide and the Creative Arts, edited by S Stack & D Lester)

The variation in the portrayal of motives for suicide in the cinema have not been systematically addressed in the literature. This chapter tests aspects of a biographical approach to explaining some of the variation in suicide motives in film. In particular, it focuses on biographical experiences & values of a major film star, John Wayne, […]

Future Work: Points of Departure and Data Sources (IN: Suicide and the Creative Arts, edited by S Stack & D Lester)

In this concluding chapter, Stack & Lester discuss selected points of departure for research that would fill important gaps in the knowledge base. Included in their survey are: the neglect of non-Western art, the neglect of major art forms like film, photography, & music, & the weighting of positive versus negative definitions in images. The […]

Samson’s Suicide: Psychopathology (Grossman) vs. Heroism (Jabotinsky)

This article examines how two authors explain the biblical story of Samson’s suicide. One author, Grossman, sees Samson’s death as a deliberate choice to end his suffering. The other, Jabotinsky, regards Samson as a heroic figure who killed himself to help his people. Since the personal & political opinions of these authors influenced their interpretations, […]

Suicide Terrorists: are They Suicidal?

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Durkheim’s “Heroic Suicide” in Military Combat

Durkheim’s neglected concept, heroic suicide, was explored using Congressional Medal of Honor data. All cases meeting the criteria for heroic altruistic suicide in military combat (n=125) were selected for analysis. Both qualitative and quantitative content analysis procedures were used and the usefulness of the combined approach is demonstrated. This research supports Durkheim’s claims that altruistic […]

Altruistic Suicide: Update

Durkheim’s Precedence in the use of the Terms Egoistic and Altruistic Suicide: an Addendum

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Quest for Evolutionary Meaning in the Persistence of Suicide

This article explores the suggestion of some scientists that the persistence of suicide at fairly high rates across most cultures suggests an underlying evolutionary component, a possible Darwinian rationale for an an act that often seems irrational. Scientists propose the tendency toward suicide could be a concomitant of a trait or a group of traits […]

On Indirect Reciprocity: the Distinction Between Reciprocity and Altruism, and a Comment on Suicide Terrorism

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Altruism and Physician Assisted Death

Altruistic Suicide: a few Reflections

This is the opening editorial to a journal issue of several studies on the topic of altruistic suicide. The author focuses on the question: Who is the altruistic suicide? He also explores the related question that was raised by Durkheim: When is a motive praiseworthy & when not – when to be called altruistic or […]

Emile Durkheim and Altruistic Suicide

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Evolution of the Concept of Altruistic Suicide in Pre-Durkheim Suicidology

The authors explore the pre-Durkheim understanding of altruistic suicide. They find that suicide as self-sacrifice was described by early nineteenth-century authors before the delineation of altruism by the French philosopher & mathematician Auguste Comte. The concept evolved, leading to the categorization of altruistic suicide by Savage in England in 1892 & the elaboration of the […]

The Ethics of Self-Sacrifice: What’s Wrong With Suicide Bombing?

The authors ask the question: What’s wrong with suicide bombing? They argue that scientific theories of suicide – biological, psychological, & sociological – do not contribute to an understanding, nor does the claim that it is amoral, the product of psychopathology or mental illness. They argue that the central moral core of the issue of […]

Altruistic Suicide: a Look at Some Issues

Examples of recent cases of martyrs are examined in order to identify the basic issues of whether martyrdom can be viewed as altruistic suicide. Several issues are identified: whom does the act have to benefit, must the act have its intended consequences or is the intent sufficient, does the martyr have to be thinking rationally, […]

Paetus, it Does not Hurt: Altruistic Suicide in the Greco-Roman World

Emile Durkheim studied altruistic suicide through an exploration of ancient culture. He associated the concept with civilizations in which people have not reached a sufficient degree of individuation & held that the Greek & Roman civilizations had already developed & were not strongly integrated, a precondition for frequent altruistic suicide. Yet, the authors argue that […]

Altruistic Suicide or Altruistic Martyrdom? Christian Greek Orthodox Neomartyrs: a Case Study

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Altruistic Suicide in India

Altruistic suicide has a long history in India. In ancient times, 2 forms were practiced: Jauhar, a kind of mass suicide by women of a community when their menfolk suffered defeat in battle; & Sati, a suicide of a widow on the funeral pyre of her husband or after the cremation. The practice of Jauhar […]

Sociopolitical Contexts of Self-Immolations in Vietnam and South Korea

This article explores common political & social-psychological factors involved in acts of self-immolation that took place in Vietnam & South Korea in the later part of the 20th century. Drawing upon the work of Durkheim, the author identifies some key analytical distinctions between altruistic suicide & cases of self-immolation. Using suicide notes, diaries, & letters […]

Neither Alturistic Suicide, nor Terrorism but Martyrdom: a Muslim Perspective

For commentary on this article by I Orbach, please see SIEC #2004-1298