Altruistic suicide: a few reflections.

Research paper by Antoon A AA Leenaars

Indexed on: 12 Jul '05Published on: 12 Jul '05Published in: Archives of Suicide Research


In the last few centuries, science has become arithmetic, tabular, taxonomic, to explain living creatures, chemical elements and even diseases of the mind. Emile Durkheim attempted to do the same with his enduring volume, Suicide: A Study of Sociology, first published in 1897. Durkheim showed that suicide could be divided into an order: egoistic, altruistic, anomic and fatalistic-here, we focus on the question, who is the altruistic suicide? Durkheim's additional question is raised: When is a motive praiseworthy and when not-when to be called altruistic or heroic, and when terrorist? Further study is warranted-and thus, this opening editorial to an array of studies on the topic, from antiquity to the Christian martyrs into this century, to the act of Sati in India, to the suicide bomber in the Moslem world.