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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/44

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40
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

lay sisters) furnish very few suicides. A study of more recent statistics about the Jews confirms this view. In eastern Europe and the orient, where they are ardently devoted to their religion, a Jewish suicide is very rare; in some cities in Russia or Galicia, with over 20,000 Jews, more than ten years often pass without a Jew taking his own life. During the first half of the last century, when the social and economic condition of the Jews in western Europe was not much superior to that of their eastern European coreligionists of to-day, self-destruction was also rare among them. With the decline of the intensity of religious belief which is characteristic of the contemporaneous Jews in western Europe and America an adoption of the habits and customs of the christian population has been noted, among which suicide may be mentioned as a social fact important for study.

In eastern Europe suicide is even to-day less frequent among the Jewish than among the christian population. In Cracow, for instance, one per cent, of all the deaths during 1895-1900 was self-inflicted among the christians, as against only 0.4 per cent, among the Jews; in Budapest, Hungary, the rates in 1902 were as follows:

 

Number of Suicides pee 1,000 Population

Christians Jews
Men 6.79 4.61
Women 2.35 1.00
Total 4.44 2.88

Suicide is here less frequent among the Jews than among others. But proceeding to western Europe, where the Jews are affected by what Morselli characterizes as the 'universal and complex influence to which we give the name civilization' the proportion of suicides is at present much larger among the Jews than among christians, although but fifty years ago it was uncommon. Thus in Würtemberg during 1846-60 the rate was on the average annually among protestants 113.5, among catholics 77.9, and among Jews only 65.6 per 1,000,000 population. During 1898-1902 the rates increased to 252 among the Jews and to only 162.7 among the christians. In Bavaria the suicide rates were during 1844-56, Jews 105.9, protestants 135.4 and catholics 49.1 per 1,000,000. Since 1870 a steady increase was noted as follows:

 

Number of Suicides per 1,000,000 Population

Catholics Protestants Jews
1870-79 73.5 194.6 115.3
1880-89 95.3 221.7 185.8
1890-99 92.7 210.2 212.4

The increase in the rates of self-destruction among the Jews has thus been so pronounced within the thirty years since 1870 that it is now much higher than among the christian population of Bavaria. The greatest increase has, however, been observed in Prussia. During