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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 55 (2013) 7, 483 - 492

Essay

Suicide: A medico-historical exploration

J.D. Blom

Summary
background The recent rise of suicide rates internationally clearly indicates that the medical profession needs to give more attention to suicidality.
aim To construct a medico-historical framework for the concepts of suicide and suicidality.
method The study is based on articles referred to in PubMed and on the historical literature.
results Throughout history, the legal, stoic, medical, and sociological perspectives have all left their own unique stamp on the conceptualisation of suicide and suicidality.
conclusion Recent initiatives in the Netherlands such as 113Online and the Multi-disciplinary guideline for diagnosis and treatment of suicidal behaviour constitute apt responses to the alarming rise of suicide rates, but it is not clear to what extent these initiatives will be able to counterbalance the interpersonal and social-economic mechanisms which appear to have determined suicide rates in the course of history.

keywords self-destruction, suicidology, thanatology