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September 4, 1937

THEORIES ON THE CAUSES OF SUICIDE

JAMA. 1937;109(10):796-797. doi:10.1001/jama.1937.02780360044013
Abstract

Suicide and its causes are matters of general interest primarily because suicide represents a voluntary attempt to substitute an unknown state for a known one—a step frequently causing hesitation in other less radical human decisions. The general attitude toward suicide is much affected by the emotions, religion and customs of a people. Hence it has been frequently noted that the numbers of suicides, the apparent precipitating causes and the methods by which self destruction is accomplished or attempted have varied widely in different parts of the world at different periods.

Review of some of the recent studies of the subject reveals a disparity in both approach and conclusions. Thus comparison of suicides among civilized and primitive races has been reported by Zilboorg.1 He points out that the popular reaction to the act is confused and one hears with apparently equal frequency either that it takes great courage to commit

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