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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/325

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A STUDY OF SUICIDE.

Such, causes, though occurring everywhere, are, of course, more frequent in large cities like Paris, London, and New York, the former probably taking precedence, it being no uncommon sight to see upon the marble slabs of the Morgue three or four dead bodies which have been recovered from the Seine. When the history of such cases can be learned, they show, in the majority of instances, the absence of domestic ties, coupled either with misguided love and jealousy or dissipation and remorse. Indeed, so far as men are concerned, we must consider marriage, with its accompanying influences of home and children, a most important prophylactic. In regard to women, however, this statement does not hold good, for with them suicide is more frequent among the married than the single, the proportion being 10 to about 9 or 9*4. This may be explained to some extent by the mental disturbances produced by pregnancy and child-birth, but the strongest reason undoubtedly is that a girl's youthful dreams of happiness are often shattered by the realities of married life.

One of the most interesting tables in this connection is that compiled by Bertillion, and first published in the "Revue Scientifique" for 1879. He found that among a million of inhabitants, taken from all classes, the following numbers committed suicide, viz.:

Married men with children 205 Married women with children 45
Married men without children 470 Married women without children 158
Widowers with children 526 Widows with children 104
Widowers without children 1,004 Widows without children 238

We here learn the interesting facts that, when marriage is childless, the number of suicides is doubled in men and trebled in women; and also that maternal love diminishes the number of suicides among widows with children by one third over those of childless unions.

This table also shows that males exceed females in the frequency of the act in the proportion of four to one. While this is true of suicides in general, it certainly is not the case in those who are insane. My experience leads me to believe that suicidal tendencies in the insane are quite as frequent among women as among men, and I am sure that the former frequently show the more determination and persistence. In the outside world men lead more exciting lives and are subject to greater mental strain than women, and it is therefore natural that they should more frequently resort to suicide. Another probable reason for the comparative infrequency of suicide among women is that they are better endowed with religious fervor and possess a larger share of hope. In India and Japan only does this rule fail to hold