In the past two decades, the suicide rate in America has increased by thirty-three percent, but there have been few advances in understanding how to prevent this sort of death. A review of forty years of studies in the journal PLOS One, in 2016, concluded that a reliable method of identifying who might commit suicide "remains elusive." Ninety-five percent of people who had been identified in studies as most likely to kill themselves did not do so. Half of the people who committed suicide had been classified as low risk. The authors wrote, "The extent of this uncertainty is profound." In The Savage God, a book about suicide, the English writer A. Alvarez observed that explanations for suicide are almost never sufficient. They are "like a trivial border incident which triggers a major war. The real motives which impel a man to take his own life are elsewhere; they belong to the internal world, devious, contradictory, labyrinthine."This is from an interesting article in the April 6 New Yorker about a Buddhist teacher who was accused of wrongful death when one of his students committed suicide, on the theory that the destruction of self she achieved in her meditative practice led her not to enlightenment, but to despair.
Friday, April 3, 2020
Profound Uncertainty about Suicide