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What is suicide?

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Suicide (Latin suicidium, from sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the intentional taking of one's own life. Many dictionaries also note the metaphorical sense of "willful destruction of one's self-interest". Suicide may occur for a number of reasons, including depression, shame, guilt, desperation, physical pain, emotional pressure, anxiety, financial difficulties, or other undesirable situations. The World Health Organization noted that someone commits suicide every 39 seconds, making it one of the leading causes of death in the world. There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year worldwide.

Views on suicide have been influenced by cultural views on existential themes such as religion, honor, and the meaning of life. The Abrahamic religions consider suicide a dishonorable act; in the West it was often regarded as a serious crime and an offense towards God due to religious belief in the sanctity of life. Japanese views on honor and religion led to seppuku, one of the most painful methods of suicide, to be respected as a means to atone for mistakes or failure, or as a form of protest during the samurai era. In the 20th century, suicide in the form of self-immolation has been used as a form of protest, and in the form of kamikaze and suicide bombing as a military or terrorist tactic. Sati is a Hindu funeral practice in which the widow would immolate herself on her husband's funeral pyre, either willingly, or under pressure from the family and in-laws.

Medically assisted suicide (euthanasia, or the right to die) is currently a controversial ethical issue involving people who are terminally ill, in extreme pain, and/or have minimal quality of life through injury or illness. Self-sacrifice for others is not usually considered suicide, as the goal is not to kill oneself but to save another.

The predominant view of modern medicine is that suicide is a mental health concern, associated with psychological factors such as the difficulty of coping with depression, inescapable suffering or fear, or other mental disorders and pressures. Suicide is sometimes interpreted in this framework as a "cry for help" and attention, or to express despair and the wish to escape, rather than a genuine intent to die.3 Most people who attempt suicide do not complete suicide on a first attempt; those who later gain a history of repetitions have a significantly higher probability of eventual completion of suicide.

Includes CC-BY-SA content from Wikipedia's Suicide article (authors)

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