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September 1964

Immobilization Response to Suicidal Behavior

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Southern California.
The Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center has been supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, US Public Health Service.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1964;11(3):282-285. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1964.01720270054006

Certain aspects of self-destructive behavior can be understood as an appeal for help in an intolerable situation made to one or more potential rescuers.3 Often the response of the person who receives such a communication is crucial for life or death. When the responses are inadequate, what are the reasons?

The concept "suicide" comprises such a wide variety of complex social-psychological phenomena that most investigators have limited themselves to special aspects.

For example, Stengel emphasized the social effects of suicidal behavior.11 Ordinarily suicide threats or attempts have a powerful social effect, tending automatically to induce or "release" rescuing activity from the environment. Indeed much of the rationale of a Suicide Prevention Center5 is provided by observations which indicate that potentially self-destructive persons are ambivalent about death. They communicate their suicidal preoccupation. Then others can give aid.

In a classical