RE: memetic fitness and suicide

Gatherer, D. (
Thu, 22 Jul 1999 14:46:16 +0200

Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 14:46:16 +0200
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: memetic fitness and suicide
To: "''" <>


I would say that there is a difference between the act of
suicide and the method used to commit suicide. I suspect
that it would be easier to unpack why (for instance)
paracetamol overdose was particularly 'fit' rather than
unpack the 'fitness' of suicide.

Actually, paracetamol is really quite a bad method, as the LD-50 is rather
high, and you need to take a lot to do the job properly. Most attempted
paracetamol suicides don't die straight away, but then appear to recover.
They usually last 10 days and then peg out rather horribly from liver
failure (unless they can get a transplant).

The qualitative 'method' of suicide might have particular
features which make it 'fit' in certain environments. It's
hard to see (beyond a kind of 'martyr' model) how suicide
itself could be a particularly 'fit' behaviour. Perhaps
suicide is hitch hiking along with fitter concepts - e.g.
making people appreciate you, or feel guilty about
something they've done.

which is defined as 'parasuicide'. It may be the Zahavi principle that
Dawkins goes on about at length. Reckless, Byronic behaviour may be the
preserve of high status, highly competent males who are 'demonstrating'
their fearlessness, ability to live on the edge etc. A genetic advantage
may accrue.

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