Title

How Knowledge of Extenuating Circumstances Influences Community Reactions Toward Suicide Victims and Their Bereaved Families

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1990

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Since suicide is self-determined, the circumstances of the victim's life may influence people's responses. To assess this possibility, 180 undergraduate volunteers read a fictitious newspaper article about a thirty-five-year-old man who committed suicide following one of eight extenuating circumstances: psychological pain (bankruptcy, incarceration, bereavement, graduate school), physical pain (burns, arthritis), or terminal illness (AIDS, terminal bone cancer). A control group received no information about any extenuating circumstances. As expected, victims of terminal illness and their families were seen in a more favorable light. Notably, reactions were about the same when psychological pain was reported as they were when no information about extenuating circumstances was given. Apparently medical problems were viewed as more acceptable reasons for suicide than were psychological problems.

Publication Title

OMEGA-Journal of Death and Dying

Volume

21

Issue

3

First Page

191

Last Page

198

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