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May 15, 1967

Changing Concepts Of Suicide

JAMA. 1967;200(7):651. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120200129039

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To the Editor:—  Your editorial entitled "Changing Concepts of Suicide" (199:752, 1967) illustrates the almost fanatical preoccupation with mere survival which pervades medical philosophy and "ethics" today. The logical and valid views of suicide expressed by Pliny the Elder and Thomas Browne, having long since been stultified by medieval dogmatists, legalists, and theologians, now are being further debased by "the dominant current approach" in Medicine. The latter asserts flatly that every prospective suicide is invariably an emotionally disturbed individual, with whose purposes and act a physician is obligated to interfere.As the editorial states, many great writers and themes of the past have recognized the possibility that deliberate, self-sacrificial self-destruction may be an act so honorable and dignified that it can transcend all philosophical, religious, legal, and social strictures. To this list of ancient taboos, contemporary psychiatry now presumes to add another.A statement by Dr. Rubin on page