The Lure of Death: Suicide as a Uniquely Human Phenomenon
Once humans began to understand that death brings to an end a person’s bodily and mental presence in the world, the possibility arose that in certain circumstances individuals would deliberately choose this outcome for themselves. Suicide has in fact become an alarmingly common trait, responsible for more deaths than war and homicide combined. In this talk I shall ask what this means for human biological fitness. While some suicides are arguably adaptive, the majority are clearly maladaptive. Nonetheless the trait has been able to take hold because the suicide meme – to which humans have no natural immunity – easily infects vulnerable minds and is highly contagious.