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Article
August 1963

Suicide and Mass Suicide.

Arch Intern Med. 1963;112(2):295-298. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03860020193037

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Abstract

Suicide is a dirty word in our civilization. So was syphilis—and was allowed to do its dirty work by suppression of its cognizance.

I shall quote only one statistic: 18,000 suicides are reported a year in the United States. This figure will be clothed in glaring significance by comparing it to two facts: (1) the 35,000 deaths a year through motorcar accidents—while there is an outcry against traffic deaths, there is a suppression of information on death by suicide; and (2) our society considers suicide a disgrace, and therefore if a death can be ascribed to other causes, it is usually not reported as suicide.

For example, newspaper accounts often report the death of a prominent person through accidental ingestion of an overdose of sleeping pills. The fact is that that is rather improbable: assuming that an individual has forgotten that he took a dose of a hypnotic only ten

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