The Art of Suicide

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 04 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1103
  1. Jeremy Hugh Baron, honorary professorial lecturer
  1. Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York

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    Ron M Brown

    Reaktion Books, £25/$29.95, pp 253

    ISBN 1 86189 105 9

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    Reaktion publishes books integrating history and images. Brown's punningly titled volume both divides suicides into sinful and heroic, and also surveys their images in European art.

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    The deaths of Anthony and Cleopatra c1470-83 (French)


    In antiquity voluntary death was distinguished from self murder (Socrates, Sophonisba, Seneca) ordered by rulers, and from the deaths of brave fighters (Cato, Antony and Cleopatra) who killed themselves to avoid capture and degradation. Others in literature died because they had, or believed they had, lost their lover. Ovid's Pyramus thought Thisbe dead and killed himself. Thisbe did likewise. Shakespeare had Romeo and Juliet, and Ophelia.

    The instrument of death was important. Death from …

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