Leonardo Tondo: Brief History of Suicide in the Western World

Leonardo Tondo’s reply to Hector Warnes’ comments


       Hector Warnes’ comments on my short essay on suicide are stimulating and interesting.  Personally, I found Durkheim’s book too sociologically oriented so that its influence has determined a general wave of perception of suicide associated with environmental and social causes.  Unkown are the reasons why we all tend to accept more his theories than more evidence-based findings from the medical field. 

       There is also a tendency to see suicide as romantic or the consequence of a creative personality, as in Kay Jamison’s book cited by Warnes.  All this has its own strong appeal but it misses the main point: suicide is almost always the result of conflicts that lead to severe depressive states especially with mixed features.  Taking into consideration this medical approach, we can claim that, suicide is highly preventable with pharmacological and psychological interventions. 

       If I were convinced that suicide be a rational and voluntary act during or following special events of our lives, I would not be interested in trying to prevent it and I would follow what Camille Paglia wrote in Sex, Art, and American Culture (1992):

       “My thinking tends to be libertarian. That is, I oppose intrusions of the state into the private realm - as in abortion, sodomy, prostitution, pornography, drug use, or suicide, all of which I would strongly defend as matters of free choice in a representative democracy.”



Paglia C. Sex, Art, and American Culture. Vintage; 1992.


October 24, 2019