Suicide is defined as the intentional taking of one's own life. In some European languages, the word for suicide translates into English as "self-murder " Until the end of the twentieth century, approximately, suicide was considered a criminal act; legal terminology used the Latin phrase felo-de-se, which means "a crime against the self." Much of the social stigmathat is still associated with suicide derives from its former connection with legal judgment, as well as with religious condemnation.
In the social climate of 2002, suicidal behavior is most commonly regarded— and responded to— as a psychiatric emergency.
Demographics of suicide
In the United States, the rate of suicide has continued to rise since the 1950s. More people die from suicide than from homicide in North America. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S., and the third leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 24. There are over 30,000 suicides per year in the U.S., or about 86 per day; each day about 1,500 people attempt suicide.
The demographics of suicide vary considerably from state to state. Some states, like Pennsylvania, have suicide rates that are very close to the national average; others, such as Connecticut, have significantly lower rates. However, other states have much higher rates than the national average. These variations are due in part to differences among age groups and racial groups, and between men and women. Males are three to five times more likely to succeed in their suicide attempts than females, but females are more likely to attempt suicide. Most suicides occur in persons below the age of 40; however, elderly Caucasians are the sector of the population with the highest suicide rate.
Race is also a factor in the demographics of suicide. Between 1979 and 1992, the suicide rate of Native Americans was 1.5 times the national average, with young males between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for 64% of Native American deaths by suicide. Asian-American women have the highest suicide rate among all women over the age of 65. Further, between 1980 and 1996 the suicide rate more than doubled for African-American males between the ages of 15 and 19.
Rebecca J. Frey Ph.D., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,