Renunciation of Hope

'Suicide remains a baffling and frightening renunciation of hope. Self-preservation is, along with procreation, the strongest human instinct. Yet suicide occurs, to greater and lesser degrees, in every society, and is almost always regarded as a violation of nature and instinct. “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem,” reflected Albert Camus, “and that is suicide”...

Trying to pin down the causes of suicide is notoriously difficult, as rates vary so widely between and within populations, age groups and sexes. Mental illness is usually an underlying element in the equation, while alcohol is widely considered an exacerbating factor.

Durkheim believed that the roots of suicide also lay in social factors, a crisis of values caused by modern anomie, loneliness and soul-crushing urbanism. Stronger social control among Catholics, he argued, resulted in lower suicide rates than among Protestants. Lack of social integration and the decay of ordered belief systems left individuals adrift and pushed them closer to the edge.'

- Ben Macintyre, 'The world viewed from the window ledge'.


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