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J Med Humanit. 2013 Sep;34(3):347-68. doi: 10.1007/s10912-013-9235-7.

The art of dying as an art of living: historical contemplations on the paradoxes of suicide and the possibilities of reflexive suicide prevention.

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1
School of Historical and Contemporary Studies, Södertörn University, 141 89, Huddinge, Sweden. kristian.petrov@sh.se

Abstract

The main aim of this paper is to reconstruct different aspects of the history of ideas of suicide, from antiquity to late modernity, and contemplate their dialectical tension. Reflexive suicide prevention, drawing on the ancient wisdom that the art of living is inseparable from the art of dying, takes advantage, it is argued, of the contradictory nature of suicide, and hence embraces, rather than trying to overcome, death, pain, grief, fear, hopelessness and milder depressions. This approach might facilitate the transformation of inner shame to inter-personal guilt, which is the precondition for coping with losses through grieving that is shared with others. The traditional projection of suicide on the 'Other', reinforced by modernity's bio-political suppression of death, has inhibited development of good suicide prevention. Awareness of the ambiguity and ambivalence found in suicide may work as a resource when measures are taken to address as many causal mechanisms as possible, and bringing special emphasis to external factors.

PMID:
23794108
DOI:
10.1007/s10912-013-9235-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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