It is a somewhat curious fact, considering the immense number of feasible means 지지모아 of terminating one’s existence, that there should be such a small number of methods in constant use. To enumerate the possible means which should fulfil the necessities of the case, viz., to be certain and be speedy, would take too long, and would be unnecessary. The means that are used daily are practically very few; the following eight methods include almost every case: Hanging, drowning, shooting, cut throat and other wounds, falls from a height, placing the body in the path of railway trains and other vehicles, poison, and suffocation by want of air, or poisonous gases. Voluntary starvation, which was common in ancient Rome, is now almost unknown. The relative frequency of these means is found to vary in each country, and in each country varies with age, sex, occupation, and opportunity, but these several numbers are very constant year after year.

Whenever we find the use of an exceptional means, which causes prolonged or more exquisite torture, we constantly find evident traces of insanity─(Morselli).145 The sane man may kill himself, but he endeavours to do it as easily as may be.

The means I have said is governed by opportunity; for example, Russians, on account of their climate, live mostly indoors, and are forbidden by law to carry arms, so we find hanging most common. In Italy we have an out-door life, and arms are frequently carried, and there we find shooting and drowning the most common. And now of late years, in proportion to the spread of railways, we find the number of persons casting themselves under trains to increase.

Hanging is the most prominent means of suicide almost throughout Europe; the Germans are the most conspicuous for choosing this mode of death, and next the Russians; the Italians, on the contrary avoid it. It is by far the most common means used in England, and has of late years been gaining in frequency in many European countries, notably in France and Denmark. It is never so common among women as among men in any country.

Drowning is the next most frequent means. Italy and France supply the largest proportions; its amount bears a definite relation to the average temperature; the cooler the climate the less frequent is suicidal drowning; it is rare in Russia. The annual reports show that it is decreasing in France.

The female sex is the especial patroness of death by drowning in every country; twice as many women as men drown themselves in Europe every year.

Fire Arms are used chiefly in Italy and Switzerland; they form the fifth means in order of frequency146 in England. In the neighbourhood of the military frontiers of Austria and Germany they are a frequent means of death.

Cut Throat occupies about the same position as drowning in England and Ireland; but in no other country is it anything like so common. It is beyond all other wounds the most common. Opening of the veins is an almost forgotten practice.

Falls from a height are a specially favoured means of destruction with the Italians; it is neglected by all other nationalities.

Poison is another mode of killing very popular among the Anglo-Saxons, especially in England and the United States. Some poisons are very easily procured by anyone, because they are used in the arts, whilst others are difficult to be obtained, and are seldom used for suicidal purposes, except by medical men and chemists.

The poisons most frequently used are: Opium, morphia, and their preparations; prussic acid, cyanide of potassium (used in photography), and essential oil of bitter almonds (used in cookery); carbolic acid and its preparations, the disinfectant liquids; oxalic acid (used in the arts, to clean metals); strychnia and its preparations, the vermin-killing powders.

Less frequently used are lunar caustic; the mercurial salts; the vegetable narcotics; the mineral acids; preparations of arsenic, phosphorus, and its preparations, chiefly vermin killers; and salts of copper.

Suffocation by carbonic acid gas was first used147 in Paris. Closed charcoal stoves are common in France, and it is easy to destroy life by means of them in a small room. The practice is spreading in France, and has taken root in Germany also.

I now subjoin tables of the means employed in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and in London, and in Europe generally.
Of 151 suicides in New York, in 1883, 56 were from fire-arms, 19 hanging, 15 stabbing and cutting, 12 drowning, 11 falls from a height, 18 poisoning with Paris green, and 7 with opium.

These cases have been also tabulated in a manner showing the relative amounts of each means according to nationalities, and disclose the very remarkable fact, that English, French, Germans and Irish, when they have emigrated and are living in a foreign country, still retain their racial predilections for means of suicide; but they also shew that there is a tendency to follow the custom of a place, inasmuch as poison, the favourite means of the native of New York, becomes more frequent among the French and Germans there, than it is among French and Germans at home.

Of means rarely observed, I may mention, death by starvation; it is more rare now-a-days than it was in classical times; it requires extreme resolution to persevere in this means of self-destruction, and it is extremely painful.

One case of attempted crucifixion is on record, that153 of Matthew Lovat, in 1802, at Venice; he indeed made two attempts, but failed in both.

In Middlesex, last year, a man deliberately inhaled coal gas from the supply pipe in his room, and so died of suffocation and blood poisoning.

During 1881, there were five unusual cases in England; two persons blew themselves up with gunpowder, one person burned himself to death, one died of voluntary starvation, and one died from eating horsehair.

During 1880, one suicide was caused by drinking paraffin spirit, and another by swallowing pennies and pebbles.
It is instructive to compare the statistics of crime in general with those of suicide; such data as are found in “Recherches sur le penchant au Crime,” by A. Quetelet, illustrate this matter; he gives the figure of a curve showing the amount of crime at different ages of life. This curve rises from almost zero at ten years of age to nearly its maximum at 20, quite its highest point at 23, and then falls evenly to half its height at 45; thence evenly to 70, when it is at a similar position to 15 years of age, and thence evenly to zero at the age of 100 years. These proportions are found to exist at the present time in our own country. Among women the maximum falls a little later in life than among men, viz., at 30 years of age. Of crime in general, one woman is convicted to four men.

The seasons disclose a peculiar proportion; in summer there are most crimes against the person, fewest against property; in winter, fewest crimes against the person, most against property.

Officials and professional men are more prone to commit crimes against the person than against property; labourers and mechanics commit more crimes155 against property than against the person. Celibacy contributes 60 out of 100 criminals. It seems tolerably certain that one-half of insane persons, two-thirds of the poor, and three-fourths of all criminals are persons who have drunk to excess.

I add in this place, figures shewing the present decrease of crime in England and Scotland, to which reference was made in the preface. This diminution may be, in some part, due to an increase of the police force, and to the greater efficiency of these officers. If these be the real causes of the improvement, and not increased morality, the reason why the suicide rate is not decreasing becomes explained, because, as I point out elsewhere, the police are almost powerless to control the perpetration of suicide.

The number of persons committed for criminal trial in 1882 was 15,260; this shews a diminution of 381 upon the average of five years precedent. In Scotland, 2,692 persons were committed for trial against 2,859, the average for the five years immediately preceding. The total number of “persons of bad character known to the police” in England is also diminished in 1882, being 38,966, against 39,161 in the previous year, and compared to 46,877 in the year 1872.

Sir John Lubbock has lately called attention to the diminished amount of English crime at the present time, and attributes it to the spread of education. Mr. Justice Smith has also spoken on the same point, but hesitates to assign education as the cause of the improvement; he mentions another remarkable point, that the highest rates of criminal violence are asso156ciated with the population earning the highest wages, chiefly through the greater amount of alcoholic liquors so consumed.

Suicide certainly has points of difference to other crimes of violence; the wicked ones of earth are not those who specially practice it. Education checks crime, although under the influence of increased mental tension self-sacrifice is more rife; alcohol increases crime and suicide also; this I believe to be due to the fact that habitual alcoholic excess lessens the controlling power of the conscience, and renders the mind less able to withstand the tension induced by development.

The prevalence of suicide is every day attributed to the progress of immorality; I associate it as much with the development of thought.

Savages, implacable in their hate, ferocious in their vengeance, and atrocious in their pleasures, do not commit it, although they kill their old people, and do not hesitate to drink from the skulls of their enemies. It was not common among any of the great nations of old until they became cultivated intellectually. Compare Regnault on Mental Alienations.

Attempted Suicide.
The relative proportion between suicides and suicidal attempts has been the subject of much difference of opinion.

It is a common idea that many attempts are made with a view to coerce or influence relations and157 friends, attempts which, in fact, are not intended to be successful, although they sometimes succeed.

In general, if a second attempt be made, after a fruitless effort, and especially after recovery from injury, the patient is insane. Attempts at suicide by cutting very frequently fail, as do attempts by the use of fire-arms; but on the other hand, death is much more certain if drowning or hanging has been the means used.

In cases of poisoning, also, the victims are often found half dead, and skilful treatment restores a great number. In a recent case a man threw himself between the rails in front of an advancing train, and yet escaped without any injury; but such attempts are almost certain destruction.

Ogston (Ed. Med. Journal, Feb. 1885) narrates a very interesting and instructive case of suicide: the deceased had evidently made repeated attempts to kill himself with a razor; six incisions were visible on the chest and five on the neck, but the unfortunate man finding himself not dying fast enough, had finally cast himself into the sea, and was drowned.

In view of the great uncertainty existing as to the relation between attempted and completed self-destruction, I made a special appeal to the medical profession in this country, through the medical journals, for information, but received only few replies. As a rule, hospital medical officers consider that attempts far outnumber successes, whilst general practitioners incline to the opinion that failures are less frequent. As a summary of all the cases reported to me, the numbers were in the relative pro158portion of 21 failures to 12 completed instances. I have already said how difficult it is to form a correct estimate of the number of suicides (see page 58); the sources of error are still more numerous when we attempt to estimate the number of unsuccessful attempts. The police are entirely at a loss to supply any valuable information as to the proportion of attempts. I consider that they are not concerned in a third of such instances; they only hear of those cases that occur in the public streets, or in lodging houses, or in the parks; or of those attempts at drowning, which are at times frequent, by jumping from the bridges, especially in London.

“Of one hundred persons,” says Esquirol, “who attempt suicide only forty succeed.” Brierre de Boismont says, “for one suicide there are two attempts.” Legoyt has ascertained that in Dublin, 1874-76, for three years the proportions (known to the police) were 41 successes and 123 attempts. He also calculates that in the countries of Europe, excluding Turkey, there are annually 28,000 persons who attempt to kill themselves, and 22,000 succeed. The Statistical Society published in Vol. I. of their Journal the following figures; in one year, 75 completed to 47 attempts; in another, 117 completed to 58 attempted; these were London cases, and the numbers were, I believe, procured from the police registers. During a period of nine years, 4,595 suicides were registered in Paris, and 1,864 suicidal failures. In Baden, during two years, 417 suicides were discovered, whilst the official records show only 22 cases of attempted suicide.
The attempt to commit suicide is much less liable to interruption than attempted murder. There is no resistance from the opponent to be allowed for, and it is easy to evade the officers of the law by attempting the act when alone. As a matter of fact, it is a rare event for anyone to commit suicide when in company with others. The majority of suicides are not discovered until after death.

Comte considers it a folly of lawmakers to think that enactments can check the act.

Heber, “Journey through India,” calls attention to the very small amount of success, during many years, which English officials achieved in preventing suicidal drowning at Benares and elsewhere in British India, by means of legal enactments.