Suicide in classical mythology: cues for prevention

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Abstract:

Preti A, Miotto P. Suicide in classical mythology: cues for prevention.

Acta Psychiatr Scand 2005: 1–8. © Blackwell Munksgaard 2005. Objective: 

To compare well established antecedents and correlates of completed suicide with the motives and the mechanics reported in Greek mythology. Method: 

A well-known collection of Greek myths, the Book of fables by Hyginus, was explored to investigate the mechanics driving an individual to imagine, design and carry out a suicide attempt. Results: 

Females outnumber males in the mythographer's list, their favourite methods to die being drowning, hanging, self-burning and throwing themselves down from on high. Some kind of familial recurrence of suicide was accounted for, and a large percentage of these suicides was connected to incest. Shame, sense of guilt and grief for the death of a loved one are the most frequently reported psychological correlates of the act, whereas defeat, failure or a catastrophic change in living conditions and, among females, an unfortunate love affair figure as the main antecedents of suicide. Conclusion: 

Negative life events and emotional reactions to the severing of social ties frequently occur as antecedents of suicide in Greek mythology.

Keywords: Greek world/history; incest; mythology; narration; prevention; suicide

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0447.2004.00488.x

Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, ULSS 7, Conegliano, TV, Italy

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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