• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.

Historical Suicide
Historical suicide

The desire to commit suicide and the psychological and social pressures that help shape the suicidal context have varied over time by place, social position, and belief system. In many cases it may be fairly easy to understand the motivation that prompted the act, but understanding the dynamic processes that lead to self-intentioned death is certainly more challenging.

The suicidal death of an individual or a group of people has such important implications that a case of suicide often raises questions about the very quality of life experienced by someone who chooses to die. Suicide is the ultimate rejection of life. In addition, the act of suicide forces others to examine the meaning of life, including their own. Perhaps this is why Western ...

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