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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/326

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

good, and there the number of suicides among women is twice as great as among men. This fact bears striking witness to the hardships of woman's lot in countries removed from the influences of civilization.

Statistics show that the months in which the fewest suicides occur are October and November, while the greatest number occur in April, May, and June. July and September also have a goodly share, the latter possessing a peculiar fascination for women. This refutes the old idea that suicides occur most frequently in damp and gloomy weather, for the months just mentioned as being the most prolific are certainly those in which the skies look brightest and the earth is fairest. Another remarkable fact in this connection is that the progressive increase and decrease in the number of suicides coincide with the lengthening and the shortening of the days, and, as M. Guerry has shown, not only the seasons of the year, but the days of the month and of the week, and even the hours of the day exert an influence, the constancy of which can not be mistaken. As a result of his elaborate research he found that the greatest number of suicides among men occurred during the first ten days of the month, and from Monday to Thursday of the week. This is accounted for by remembering that the majority of workingmen receive their wages either on the first of the month or the last of the week, and that "pay-day" is often followed by dissipation, debauchery, and remorse. Oettingen completed this interesting observation by showing that the larger number of suicides among women take place during the last half of the week, when they are most apt to feel the effects of man's prodigality and wrong-doing. In regard to the hours of the day, we know, from Brierre de Boismont's examination of 1,993 cases of suicide in Paris, that the maximum number occurred between 6 a. m. and noon, and thereafter regularly declined, reaching the minimum at the hour before sunrise.

It is also an established fact that the more rugged natures of men impel them to seek coarser means of self-destruction, such as the revolver, the razor, and the rope, the latter being most frequently used by those in whom the vigor of manhood is lost. Women, on the contrary, seldom resort to measures which they think will disfigure them, and therefore most frequently seek death by poisoning, asphyxia, or drowning. This, of course, only refers to cases in which the suicide has opportunity to adopt the method preferred. In hospitals for the insane almost all suicides, both male and female, and of whatever age, are accomplished by suspension, that being generally the most available method.

Epidemics of suicide frequently occur, and he who introduces any unusual method is sure of having numerous followers. In 1793 an epidemic occurred in Versailles, and the population was