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Suicide: always a tragedy?

JMS Pearce Hull, England   The tragedy of suicide is well expressed in “The romantic suicide: Karoline von Günderrode” by Nicolás Roberto Robles.1 We all try hard to understand this act. Self-destructive urges are an ubiquitous but often ignored or suppressed aspect of all human life. But what makes a person take their own life […]

Melville’s Bartleby: An absurd casualty

Simon Wein Petach Tikvah, Israel   Titian, Sisyphus, 1548–49, oil on canvas, 237 cm x 216 cm (P000426). Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a French writer and philosopher. He did not want to be pinned down as an existentialist or an absurdist, or indeed a nihilist. Nevertheless, he is well known […]

The romantic suicide: Karoline von Günderrode

Nicolás Roberto Robles Badajoz, Spain   Figure 1. Karoline von Günderrode portrait. Unknown artist. Via Wikimedia. No known restrictions on publication. Suicide, often occurring as an impulsive gesture or from underlying depression, has long been an important cause of death among young people, as exemplified within recent memory by the wave of suicides that followed […]

A love-driven model of suicide prevention

Kate Baggott St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada   Burgoyne Bridge reconstruction – Cranes mid bridge. Photo by Matt Clare. Taken 2016. CC BY 2.0. The suicide barrier on the Bloor Street Viaduct in Toronto is called the Luminous Veil. The beauty of the title is that it is intentional and intelligent. Construction of the barrier started […]

What could have been

Gordon Sun Downey, California, United States     By Stephanie Chen and Gordon Sun Every year, there are 400 stories like these. The second-year medical student. The social butterfly of her 106 classmates, yet her bubbly personality masks the loneliness of living on one coast after spending the first twenty-five years of her life on […]

No laughing matter

Shafiqah Samarasam Subang Jaya, Malaysia   Portrait of Robin Williams. Creative Commons. “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” These were the words of Robin Williams, the man whose own laughter was enough to make us laugh. In a world where tragedy occurs every day, his words helped us to […]

Death and new-doctor eyes

Katrina Genuis Vancouver, Canada   With slim cuts to her wrists, she came into the emergency room and said she wanted to die. “This is clearly a cry for attention,” others said. “Send the new doctor to stitch her up.” I sat by her bed with a 30-gauge lidocaine-filled needle and 4.0 nylon sutures, and […]

“…One must imagine Sisyphus happy”

Katerina Dima Preveza, Greece   “Sysphus, carrying the weight of his agony, forever.” Sisyphus, 1548, Titan Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Ancient Greek mythology teems with stories of morality, despair, and the philosophy of the absurd. No story, however, had a greater impact on this young, impressionable medical student than the story of Sisyphus. Sisyphus […]

Suicide in medical school

Trevor Klee Cambridge, MA, United States   Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity’s Gate), 1890, Vincent Van Gogh.  Depression and suicide are difficult subjects to write about because they are unpleasant and have at least a faint tinge of moral failure. Moreover, the enormity of the feelings involved dwarfs the attempts to portray them in writing. […]

Sophocles’ Antigone and the complexities of suicide

Grant Gillett Robin Hankey Otago, New Zealand    Antigone Leads Oedipus out of Thebes Charles François Jalabert Musée des Beaux Arts, Marseilles, France Suicide has been a recurring human tragedy for as long as human affairs have been recorded. The principal suicide in Antigone does not at first pass seem relevant to the twentieth century, […]