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Suicides and suicide ideation in the Bible: an empirical survey

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Abstract:

Koch HJ. Suicides and suicide ideation in the Bible: an empirical survey

Acta Psychiatr Scand 2005: 1–6. © 2005 Blackwell Munksgaard. Objective: 

The aim of this review is to summarize all data on suicidal behaviour reported in the Bible and to discuss basic implications for medical ethical positions. Method: 

All books of the Jerusalem Bible, including the apocrypha accepted in the Catholic canon, were searched for all cases of suicide, attempted suicide and suicidal ideation clearly identifiable as such. Results: 

The Bible including the apocrypha reports about 10 completed suicides and 11 cases of suicide attempt or ideation. The Bible considers human life as a divine gift but suicide per se is neither condemned nor approved. Those suffering from suicidal thoughts are treated with respect and support is offered. Conclusion: 

Theological teaching on suicide was influenced for centuries by the biased negative opinion of the early fathers of the church and scholastic savants, but these opinions are not substantiated by a thorough reading of the Bible.

Keywords: Bible; suicidal ideation; suicide; theology

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0447.2005.00567.x

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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