According to the Larousse-Dictionary of Psychology (2000), suicide is the act of taking one's own life. It is voluntary and most often done in order to escape a situation which has become apparently unbearable. Suicide can also have an operational-psychological definition according to which suicide is a human act of ceasing one's life, self-produced and with one's own intention. Suicide can be encountered in mostly any kind of society. It's hard to establish its proportions exactly, because many voluntary death cases are disguised as accidents. Some suicides which are motivated by moral or social considerations, like the desire to escape a shameful situation or to stop being a burden for the others, resemble sacrifices. Other kinds of suicides, which are more frequent, are dictated by a disturbed affectivity, by a pathological behavior: depressed neurotics, who are incapable of harmoniously fitting into society and to find a true meaning for their own existence, or melancholy people who carefully prepare their own death beforehand.
A percentage of 60% - 80% of the people committing suicide have early announced their suicidal intentions, in a way or another. Some people really try to commit suicide, whereas others make suicidal gestures which are cries for help or attempts to reveal the whole depth of their despair, how much they hurt inside. Many people who commit suicide are depressed but very many depressed people actually lack the energy to commit suicide and because of that they do it when they feel better.
As far as the age is concerned, kids rarely commit suicide and at any rate, suicidal tendencies manifest after the age of 10-15. In conclusion, we could not blame hereditary tendencies for one's desire to commit such gestures.
Trying to explain the selfish suicide gesture, Durkheim showed how family, society, religion and political society may influence such tendencies. The lack of religious consistency for instance, bearing the mask of freedom of thought, may in fact cause certain people to feel disoriented, lost on their own, lacking any clear directions in life in general, and in the spiritual field in particular. Certain people may end up committing suicide because the religious society he/she is part of, might have lost its cohesion. Religion can be disappointing because it is seldom lived as in the Bible for example, however the person who takes God seriously will discover that in the greatest despair the One Who made the eye and the One Who created the ear is nor deaf nor blind and also He is very much alive.
At any rate, suicide remains a mysterious and disconcerting phenomenon. The suicide's mental world cannot be occupied by others, and because of that his/her thoughts cannot be understood or heard, suicide thus eluding any easy explanation. This lack of explanation for the suicidal gesture is amazingly portrayed by the writer Jeffrey Eugenides in his celebrated novel 'The Virgin Suicides'. In this book, the narrator presents the reaction of a group of teenage boys to the suicide of five teenage sisters. The boys kept a collection of the deceased girls' objects and they would sift through them in a continuous yet vain attempt to understand the girls' suicide: "In the end we had the pieces of the puzzle, but no matter how we put them together, gaps remained, oddly shaped emptinesses mapped by what surrounded them, like countries we couldn't name." (Eugenides 1993, 246)
In the history of Western civilization, there have been a wide range of attitudes towards suicide, such as sympathy, anger, heroic glorification, moral or religious condemnation, dismissal, bafflement, and so on. Suicide has become the object of multidisciplinary scientific studies, including psychology, anthropology, sociology and psychiatry. Each one of these provides significant insights into the suicide topic. There are important advances being made in the understanding of the suicide behavior' neurological basis, and also in understanding the mental states which are associated with this type of behavior.
However, certain aspects and questions referring to suicide may fall outside the realm of science. Suicide has been a philosophical topic in the Western world at least since the age of Plato. Philosophers conceive a series of theological, moral, conceptual and psychological questions referring to this delicate issue. Such questions may refer to the motivation of one's suicidal behavior, to whether suicide is morally allowed or required in certain particular circumstances. Another question maybe if suicidal behavior is or not rational.