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Suicidal thinking and behaviour as of 600 BCE (Aesop's fables)


Davis, J and Money, TT and Pridmore, S, Suicidal thinking and behaviour as of 600 BCE (Aesop's fables), Australasian Psychiatry, 25, (4) pp. 373-375. ISSN 1039-8562 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 2

DOI: doi:10.1177/1039856216679543


Objective: Psychiatry has ignored history, anthropology, sociology and literature in the search for enlightenment regarding suicide. Our objective was to determine what, if anything, Aesopís fables had to teach us about suicide in around 600 BCE. Aesopís account is around two centuries older than the oldest text (Herodotus: The histories) previously examined by our group.

Method: We examined two translations of Aesopís fables, seeking accounts fitting the following categories: (1) suicidal thinking, (2) suicidal behaviour without fatal consequences, and (3) suicidal behaviour with fatal consequences.

Results: One account fitting each of these categories was identified. The triggers were: (i) self-doubt and criticism, (ii) unpleasant predicament (constant fear), and (iii) inescapable physical pain.

Conclusion: Evidence indicates that around 600 BCE, suicide was practised as a means of coping with self-doubt and criticism, unpleasant predicaments and inescapable physical pain. Recent scientific evidence confirms these observations.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:suicide, medical anthropology, suicidal thoughts
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Pridmore, S (Professor Saxby Pridmore)
ID Code:112632
Year Published:2017 (online first 2016)
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2016-11-21
Last Modified:2022-06-16

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