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August 24, 1907


JAMA. 1907;XLIX(8):695. doi:10.1001/jama.1907.02530080063010

The act of self-destruction, in civilized countries, is a transgression of the law, and, as such, is not to be countenanced. Whether or not it is ever justifiable is a question that can only be decided in the individual case after a thorough consideration of all of the attendant circumstances. The natural tendency in all healthy human beings, and in fact in all animals, is toward self-preservation, sometimes even at the expense of others. Occasionally some powerful impelling motive, such as a highly developed sense of duty, may lead to the sacrifice of the individual to preserve the welfare of others. Under ordinary circumstances, inducement for self-destruction is wanting. Conditions, however, do arise at times in which a person reaches the conclusion that death is preferable to life, and the question may fairly be asked whether a decision as to sanity or insanity can be based on the answer. Death,

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