Mass killings in the United States from 2006 to 2013: Social contagion or random clusters?

In line with previous research on suicide and social contagion, there has been widespread speculation that mass killings—which often involve suicidal offenders—are socially contagious for up to 14 days. This study tested these claims by making comparisons (i) between observed chronological clusters of mass killings in the United States from 2006 to 2013 and clusters in […]

Doomsday Movements in Africa: Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God

This article investigates Kibwetere’s Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. A brief summary of the Movement’s short history is followed by an outline of the movement’s main beliefs. This Ugandan cult’s sociohistoric context is analysed. The cult’s document, “A Timely Message”, is summarized & their relationship with a similar Marian movement […]

Suicidal Behavior Contagion on a College Campus

In Berkeley, California during a 1-month period from mid-February to mid-March, 1967 five people died by suicide on the University of California campus. The author explores the links between these lives to investigate the possibility of behavioural contagion. However, analysis did not show any such contagion. A hypothesis of symbolic location is put forward as […]

Suicide at the end of the Third Reich

The author discusses suicides which occurred in Germany at the end of World War II. He states the motivations of individuals dying by suicide were various & multi-faceted but what they had in common was a general feeling of insecurity & the lack of a future perspective. This article focuses on contemporary representations of suicide […]

Loss by Suicide: a Risk Factor for Suicidal Behavior

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Suicide in San Diego County: 1996-2001

Apocalyptic Suicide: From a Pathological to an Eschatological Interpretation

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Suicide Soldiering Through the Ages

The author discusses the occurrence of suicide terrorist attacks & military missions that were almost certain to result in death in modern & historical times. He includes examples from both World Wars & the Middle East.

“There is no Place for us to go but up”: new Religious Movements and Violence

The author examines critical and scholarly treatment of the mass suicides & homicides perpetrated by cult groups including the Solar Temple, Aum Shinri-kyo, Heaven’s Gate & the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. He argues that as far as “critical incidents” are concerned, scholars & critics of new religious movements & cults should supplement […]

Mass Suicide in Waco

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Three Footnotes on “Civil Disobedience in Antiquity”

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Apocalyptic Dreams and Religious Ideologies: Losing and Saving Self and World

In this article, examples of apocalyptic thinking in old & new religions are examined, with particular attention to Aum Shinrikyo, the Peoples Temple, Heaven’s Gate, & the Solar Temple. The author draws a link between the ‘apocalyptic dreams’ of widescale destruction & rebirth found in both schizophrenic or borderline individuals & in many religious scriptures […]

Folie a Deux (et Folie a Plusiers) (IN: Uncommon Psychiatric Syndromes by M D Enoch and H N Ball)

This chapter explores the phenomenon of folie a deux, which can occur in several syndromes in which mental symptoms, particularly paranoid delusions, are transmitted from one person to one or more others with whom the apparent instigator is in some way intimately associated, so that they also come to share the same delusional ideas. The […]

Sacrificial Immortality: Toward a Theory of Suicidal Terrorism and Related Phenomena (IN: The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, vol. 18, ed. by L B Boyer et al.)

This chapter outlines a theory of suicidal terrorism in the broad sense of the term, that is, including all manifestations of self- & other-directed aggression in the name of absolute truth (i.e., mass suicide, suicidal homicides, homicidal suicides, & passive-aggressive phenomena). The core of the author’s argument is that suicidal terrorism is a possible outcome […]

Suicide (IN: Encyclopedia of Death, ed. by R Kastenbaum and B Kastenbaum)

This encyclopedia entry discusses the history of self-killing & of the use of the term “suicide” to understand this type of behavior. Historical attitudes towards suicide, biblical suicide, & mass suicide are among the topics discussed. The statistical & sociological study of suicide originating in the late nineteenth century is explored, & key thinkers in […]

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 […]

Apocalyptic Suicide

This paper presents a provisional typology of apocalyptic suicide among cult members & analyzes the factors associated with it. These factors include: a strong dualistic philosophy, a leader with total control over the movement, & relative isolation in the presence of apocalyptic teachings. The role of mental health professionals in dealing with these groups is […]

Suicide in Japan

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The Rationality of Collective Suicide

The author considers nuclear weapons & the arms race to be a form of mass suicide. The article addresses dimension of power & safety in several political frameworks. It also discusses how superpowers would prefer that other superpowers would disappear, & how each has come to the realization that this is impossible short of mutual […]

Mass Suicide: Historical and Psychodynamic Considerations

In this article, the authors offer a definition of the phrase “mass suicide,” & several different situations in which the term can be used. After briefly examining its historical aspects, the authors go on to review some more recent examples of mass suicide. They then offer a possible interpretive model of these mass suicides based […]

Grandiose Fury: Letter Across the Pacific

Why do Cult Suicides Happen?

This article discusses possible reasons for cult suicides such as the Jonestown massacre, Waco, the Solar Temple tragedy, & more recently Heaven’s Gate. Analysts link 3 features of new religious movements to the outbreak of violence: apocalyptic belief systems, heavy investments in charismatic leadership, & social encapsulation.

Social Suicide

Suicide may be seen as the ultimate private action. However, it is argued that social forces & pathologies may play a larger part. Several examples of “social suicide” are considered, including mass suicide, organizational self-destruction, social analogues to individual suicide, & military suicide. The author concludes that suicide prevention requires social, economic, & cultural transformations […]