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Chapter 4 - Suicide

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 October 2022

Christopher C. H. Cook
Affiliation:
Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham University
Andrew Powell
Affiliation:
Formerly Warneford Hospital and University of Oxford
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Summary

Religious traditions, especially in the West, have historically condemned suicide. This attitude has changed over time, such that compassion for the deceased and for survivors, together with appreciation of underlying troubled mental states, has led to an increasing emphasis on prevention and support. Membership of faith communities and spiritual practices are generally, but not always, protective against suicide. Some therapeutic treatments have evolved from a spiritual background. Spiritual beliefs and attitudes, such as a search for meaning, can be considerations for those contemplating suicide, as seen in case histories. Taking spiritual factors into account in both assessment and management is beneficial. Severely ill people may wish for assisted dying as a way of ending their suffering. Laws and attitudes to this differ internationally and change over time. People bereaved by suicide are a vulnerable group, and require appropriate support by both spiritual and health professionals.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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