Saturday, June 14, 2008

Suicide in France


Poverty Every Year Drives Four Thousand People to Seek Relief In Death.

Statistics of suicide, alluded to by the London Standard's Paris correspondent, show that during the last four years 26,000 persons have in France put an end to their own lives. In Italy, with a population almost equal to that of France, the number of suicides during the same period has not exceeded 8,000. In seeking the reason for this great difference the well known Parisian journalist, M. Henri Fouquier, explains that in Italy the Roman Catholic religion is still strongly rooted in the population, and that it acts as a deterrent against self destruction.

Formerly in Italy the body of a suicide was dragged through the streets and then exhibited on a gibbet. Moreover, if Italy is not so rich a country as France, poverty there is less severely felt and more easy to bear than in France, thanks to the Italian sunshine and blue sky. It is estimated that perhaps a quarter of the population of Naples, for instance, live in a state of poverty which could not be borne by a workman in Paris or in the towns of the north of France. In addition to this, mendacity is not in Italy regarded as either shameful or humiliating.

Therefore, notwithstanding the extreme poverty prevailing in Italy, M. Fouquier is not astonished that it should lead but few persons to commit suicide. M. Fouquier points out that in Italy self destruction is in most cases the denouement of a love drama, whereas in France, out of an average of 6,500 suicides a year, there are not more than about 300 that can be classed as suicides of passion. In France money, or rather the lack of it, is the cause of self destruction.

M. Fouquier considers that some 2,000 suicides a year may be due to insanity, but he points out that it is now demonstrated by the statistics that in France 4,000 persons a year — that is to say, about ten persons a day — hang, drown or stifle themselves with the fumes of charcoal or blow out their brains because they are ruined, because they are prosecuted by their creditors, because they cannot earn enough to procure food and are dying of starvation.

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