Is killing yourself a rational thing to do? In Ancient Greece and Rome deliberately killing yourself was sometimes considered acceptable, or even an honourable way to die. In some Asian societies sati was practised for centuries - a widow would kill herself, usually by throwing herself on her husband’s funeral pyre, in order to remain ’pure’. Now illegal, it still happens occasionally, whether by choice or coercion. The Jewish, Christian, Islamic and other faiths came to outlaw suicide. People who had taken their own lives could not be buried in consecrated ground and shame was brought on them and their families. To ‘commit suicide’, or ‘self-murder’, became a crime in England in the 1200’s and was not made lawful until 1961. Today the stigma of suicide is reducing with better understanding of the complex reasons that surround it.

If you, or someone you know, are having suicidal thoughts there are many organisations that can help. Contact the Samaritans if there’s something troubling you: 116 123