Attitudes Toward Suicidal Behavior: A Review of the Literature

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The attitudes people in any given culture regarding death and suicidal behavior may be viewed as a reflection of that culture’s values toward life. This article reviews the literature in the area of societal attitudes toward suicidal behavior. Attitudes include not only how society feels about those who kill themselves but the family members who are left behind as well. Although surveys have shown that many Americans see suicidal people as psychologically disturbed, some groups argue that suicide can be seen as a rational behavior. The idea is postulated that the answer to whether suicide is a rational or irrational act may not be as simple as yes or no.