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Suicidal People and the Gene Pool

  1. Jul 28, 2005 #1
    I realise this is somewhat of a touchy subject to joke about but really I'm not joking.

    I've been wondering lately why there are any suicidal people around at all... it just doesn't make any sense. Wouldn't all the suicidal people have taken themselves out of the gene pool long ago, leaving behind only those who wouldn't see suicide as an option?

    I mean - when's the last time you've heard of a suicidal dog? (Yes I know lemmings but really I don't understand lemmings either).
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2005 #2


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    They either are lieing and just want attention or they are stupid and cant successfully kill themselves.
  4. Jul 28, 2005 #3
    what about homosexuals....

    unless neither of those traits are necessarily genetic. or they could be recessive.
  5. Jul 28, 2005 #4
    About homosexuals -

    There is a hypothesis that homosexuals are actually beneficial from an evolutionary stand point.

    The reasoning goes something like this:

    Since most homosexual people don't have kids, they help to ensure the safety of their family members' kids.

    As for how their genes get passed on I dont know, but I strongly suspect its through the mother.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2005
  6. Jul 28, 2005 #5
    No you misunderstood me. I'm talking about the people who actually do kill themselves - taking 30 tylenol tablets and a 40 of vodka, jumping off the golden gate, blowing your brains out that sort of thing...

    not slitting your wrist and ending up in the emergency room.
  7. Jul 28, 2005 #6


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    Ohhh. Well suicide isnt exactly something genetic i would think. You can have genes that would push you towards committing suicide if life is really hard or if you listen to the wrong music... but i wouldnt think theres an actual gene that forces you to commit suicide at one point or another.

    I mean how often do you see a happily married upper class successful person commit suicide and have no 'deep dark secret' or 'skeletons in his closet' or anything like that.

    I dont understand this thiough... "Since most homosexual people don't have kids, they help to ensure the safety of family members who DO have kids."

    I cant understand how that could be the correct reasoning...
  8. Jul 28, 2005 #7
    I phrased it wrong, I meant to say that they help look after the kids of their family members. Thanks for catching that and I edited it.

    I realize there is most likely no hard coded suicide gene, but I do mean the genes that would make a person more likely to commit suicide in a hard situation than tough it out etc.

    One would think that over the ages we would be left with people that would rather tough it out, because people who would rather kill themselves have already done so. I realise I'm obviously wrong somewhere, but thats what this thread is for =D

    Anyone know the answer?
  9. Jul 28, 2005 #8


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    Well the genes are probably very widespread and people have kids before they kill themselves. The genes also would be passed along when a person doesnt have a bad life or when those genes arent triggered.

    Of course, i think suicide is far more a problem with the development of the brain instead of your genes. I mean, whatever a kids genes are, if you beat that kid vs. giving him whatever he wants, he will probably be hugely more suicidal then the spoiled kid.
  10. Jul 28, 2005 #9
    Let's assume that there is a suicide gene. What other assumptions can you make?

    #1 - The gene ensures that the person will commit suicide sometime in their life and that people who do not have this gene will not commit suicide ever. This assumption is most likely false because, as you said, they would be weeded out of the gene pool.

    #2 - The gene highly increases the likelihood that a person would go through with suicide. This seems more likely. However, it brings up the question of what eventually leads to suicide. Isn't it usually true that people who commit suicide are usually angry or depressed over something that happened to them, i.e. their environment? If this is the trigger, then it makes sense that there are probably many people out there with this gene who will not commit suicide, at least before passing their genes. Therefore, so long as there is a substantial population of people with this gene that do not live in a suicide-invoking environment, then it would not so easily be wiped out.

    That said, I personally believe that it's not genetically based. Like I said, most people decide to commit suicide usually because of their situation. That, of course, is genetically independent. Also, people's moral or religious beliefs may also factor in. That's not genetic either. It may be true that genetics can play a part in the likelihood that a person may suffer from depression or other mental ailments, but the actual point at which someone decides that it's over seems like, to me, a function of the environment. After all, even the most 'genetically healthy' person could probably be convinced to commit suicide if he/she were being tortured or were suffering from life-long extreme pain from an accident, for example.
  11. Jul 28, 2005 #10
    There are historically enviromental consequences for Mass suicide. In Japan during the second world war, young vunerable and impressionable teenagers were press-ganged into an idiology of sacrifcial worth, known in the West as KAMIKAZE. Ask any Young Japanese teenager today if they would folow in the footsteps of those young ancestors, and I'm pretty certain they would know that the elder Japanese commanders were not of the same, free thinking and life-lover society that is prevelant in Japan today.

    The ideological premiss that is indoctered into 'so-many' by 'so-few' is actually a form of mind-control. Kamikaze Pilots were ideal candidates being so young, and having less 'life-experience' and therefore less 'Free-thinking' to contemplate suicide by their own un-pressured thinking.

    Current Societies, have used this form of actuated 'murder' (thats what it actually boils down to, elders 'force' youngsters to a suicide action, for a cause, generally this involves the elders recieving a form of social gain, be it religious, financial or military to name but a few), to invoke fear and to gain control.

    Question:What is the difference between a) Military Suicide,b) Social Suicide and c)Religious Suicide?
  12. Jul 28, 2005 #11
    suicide is a mental state not a genetic...its about the experiences & relationships you hold in your life. Like the above posts there are many things to consider.
    Is it for honour, love, religion, sacrifice, depression, obsession, stress etc. or the negation of one of those things. (like negation of honour-the samurais who stab themselves in the stomach cuz they failed their masters honour)

    The big question I think one must ask is:
    []Do you fear death? If you do then you will tend to think of it at the last minute if you try, if you don't then there's really nothign stopping you. Perhaps though it is a balance of the fear of death and the thirst for life cuz if there's one thing keeping you going(adrenalin push-like religious reasons) then its probably unlikely for one to commit suicide.

    I think depression is the worse kicker though...i've been depressed(manic depression for 1 yr) on/off for like 5-6 years. The one thing that keeps me going is the FEAR of hurting loved ones...especially my niece and nephew and my mother(i don't think she could take it).

    Lastly there is the nature solution, that is doing something till it kills you...like the kamikazes, they just sit in the plane...and even if they wanted to pull out its too late cuz the physics takes over OR perhaps eating 15 tubs of ice creamm in 1 month would be a slow death but a lethal cause.
  13. Jul 28, 2005 #12
    I knew a person whos family had what they called a "hanging barn". One or two people in each generation hung themselfs there. Depression did run in there family. This person hung himself as well{but not in the barn}, it was at his funeral that they told me of the barn. His sister with in a year killed herself too.
  14. Jul 28, 2005 #13
    On the suicide bomber thang, I don't think the impulse is to commit suicide, but the willingness to die for something they believe strongly in. This requires only that predilection to believe that strongly in something. I imagine the qualities that result in becoming a suicide bomber are: 1) stupidity; 2) gullibility; 3) obsessiveness; 4) strong sense of truth and justice (however misinformed). None of these necessitate suicide.

    On the homosexuality front, I believe the notion that there exists one set of people and they are heterosexual and another set of people and they are homosexual is somewhat outdated. This is simply the black and white thinking of people who don't really want to think to hard on the subject. I think tendancy towards hetero- or homosexuality is probably better measured in proportion: that is, we are all equally capable but unequally inclined to either sexuality. That inclination can be attributed to biology, social mores, personal experience or any combination of the above and no doubt more.

    I thought the misconception that everything can be explained away by genes had died away...
  15. Jul 28, 2005 #14
    I agree with this statement there are many factors that contribute to someone taking their own life, I can`t belive that a gene for a predisposition to kill oneself exist.

    El Hombre Invisible sumed it up nice with;

  16. Jul 28, 2005 #15
    you arnt born suicidal. Life conditions can create the sence of hoplessness, uselessness and despair. It can happen to anyone. Really..
  17. Jul 28, 2005 #16


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    From Wikipedia:

    Suicidal lemmings are just a myth.
  18. Jul 28, 2005 #17
    No, some people are def. born suicidal.

    You don't necessarily have to have a horrible childhood to be bipolar etc.

    BTW Thanks for all the responses kids, very inciteful =D
  19. Jul 28, 2005 #18
    Maybe they managed to pass in their genes before they killed themselves, therefore the genes managed to propogate?? Some characteristics that are detrimental are still passed on as the carriers managed to breed first????
  20. Jul 28, 2005 #19

    While military and religious suicide may be one and the same - in the sense that young people are made into fanatics willing to do anything for a cause (a typical ends justify the means mentality maintained by virtually all terrorist organizations [meaning those individuals who don't care about killing civilians, not those legitimately fighting a rebellion against opression] and dictatorships) - I don't think that social suicide is in the same boat.

    P.S. the lemmings out of thin air thing ROFLFLFLFLL
  21. Jul 28, 2005 #20
    environment also moulds a person's character!
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