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Animals and SuicideThis is a very sensitive and charged topic, and has many perspectives from different philosophies and religions, with disagreement even among professionals in the fields of animal cognition and behaviorology.

Suicide involves a sense of awareness and emotion; both of which are hard to measure in general, and become an even more complicated issue when dealing with animals.

These kinds of questions are philosophical, in part religious (what is death? What does knowledge of it mean? What is consciousness?), and crucially even have sharply divided answers within the fields of behaviorology (depending not on the science, but on the religious and philosophical perspectives of the researchers).

To give a single "No" answer to this , would seem just as misleading as to give a single "No" answer to the "does god exist?" question. Assuming a negative because we can't say for sure on a topic doesn't seem to be precedent.

The most important point is that because we can't determine what's going on in the mind of another - any other, even other people (see Solipsism) - the question is essentially unanswerable in any absolute sense.

Something like this would be more consistent, to provide a more broad and comprehensive perspective:

Some say NO...

In order for an act to be classified as "suicide," the agent must know that what it is about to do will end its life; it must possess some concept of death. So the crucial question becomes whether or not non-human animals possess such a concept.

In order to have this awareness, the agent must also understand that it could exist in one of two possible states: alive or dead. Some scientists believe that these sorts of thoughts are far too abstract for any known animal to think, even including the more intelligent, non-humans like Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and Dolphins. So, No, many people believe animals do not commit suicide as such.

Some Say Yes...

Yet, How can you deny the numerous stories of animals who deliberately hurt themselves when put in captivity, or pets who starve themselves and die after the loss of their master? The animal puts it's life in jeopardy because it is 'unhappy.'

Whether this is conscious or unconscious is the question at hand and whether this 'unhappines' leads to death, or suicide is hard to prove.

The real answer is NO ONE KNOWS

But we can try to understand this topic better by looking at research, stories, science and contributor input ......

Additional concerns:Suicide, with regards to a seemingly deliberate action ending one's life with no other apparent purpose, is regularly engaged in by many species of animals (see some examples in the next section)- the contentious issue is whether those creatures genuinely understand the concept of death, and that their actions will result in it- that is, while the action itself may have been apparently deliberate, we can not know for certain if the desired effect was deliberately suicide (and not, for example, merely self harm). 'Yes' Reasoning:Due to the ubiquity of fear of death among humans, and our knowledge of evolutionary Biology and behavior of near-relatives, we can intuit that fear of death is on some level instinctual, and as such, that knowledge itself could be understood in the same way for humans and many other animals- as an instinctual fear. In that sense, even when we cannot survey other species of animals on the topic, we can understand that a dog jumping from a building is probably confronting that same instinctual fear- in the presence of essentially the same knowledge of mortality as humans possess- and is committing suicide.

Beyond the instinctual knowledge argument, many animals have been taught human language, and can express basic knowledge of life and death and very acute self-awareness in rigorous testing.

Some argue that this knowledge is not sincere, but a form of parroting- not only is this argument flawed due to also being an argument for Solipsism (the belief that one's own consciousness is the only consciousness, and all other people and other animals around one are essentially automitons); but from a cognition perspective, actual knowledge is also much simpler than such complex parroting, and so should be assumed as the simplest scientific explanation (as per Occam's razor).

From this perspective, the answer would amount to a resounding 'Yes' with regards to some animals being capable of suicide, however, some believe that the knowledge itself is contained in linguistic memes and the abstract thought granted a mind by a language, which could mean only those other species which have been taught human language and abstract thought would necessarily inherit that knowledge from humans. That is to say, the signing gorilla Koko would understand the concepts, but a wild gorilla may or may not- this would depend on whether the animal languages used by the species contain a concept of death (which, because we have a poor grasp of those languages, would be impossible to say at the moment).

Many Eastern religions which relate sentience to reincarnation and shared souls would also argue for that fundamental self-awareness, indicating that other species of animals can commit suicide, while most of the Abrahamic religions are silent or inconclusive on the topic.

'No' Reasoning:If very precise and intellectual knowledge of death is required to qualify death as deliberate (rather than a general instinctual one), the issue becomes much more complicated. Quite controversially, this could even disqualify many people as having committed suicide because they, "do not understand what death is"; a theist and atheist could equally suggest that the other doesn't understand death, and so is acting on false pretenses in engaging in what would otherwise be a suicidal action, obfuscating the intent. If death really means oblivion, then is attempting to transport oneself to another spiritual universe really suicide? Conversely, if death means passing on to another realm, is attempting to annihilate oneself really suicide?

Some theists within a religion believe that animals share inherent knowledge of the true nature of life and death with humans, while others believe this knowledge is exclusively divinely gifted to humans or even that it can only be understood in the context of a single true human religion, which would make it incoherent to imagine animals possessing this knowledge (or people of another religions possessing it)- as such, this issue is contentious in almost all circles, because it is rarely conclusively addressed by scripture.

Some religious sects also believe that non-human animals are automatons without any real knowledge or emotion at all (philosophical Zombies), which are incapable of acting with genuine intellectual deliberation because they lack free will as granted by humans through the 'soul' (which has various theological origins, from inception, to creation, to temporary habitation by divine spirits)- this, likewise, would make animal suicide only apparent reflex rather than deliberate action.

Whether death, and the knowledge of it, is understood rationally, scientifically, philosophically, or spiritually is of crucial importance to the question of animal suicide.

Additional Input and Examples:Some animals, such as birds and mammals display obvious signs of emotions such as happiness, excitement but also sadness, depression, and loneliness. When driven to extremes animals will terminate their own lives be it by starvation, suffocation, or blunt force trauma. The most common type of animal self-termination is that in which an animal (like a dog) forms a very strong bond with either a human being or another an animal and then loses that significant other. Many intelligent animals form such bonds and they engage in a broad array of behaviors indicating that they are aware of the absence of their companion. For example, dogs in such situations sometimes go into depression and reject food and attention until they eventually die. The inactivity caused by depression is not the same as suicide, even though it may lead to death. If dogs were to actively engage in behavior that would obviously lead to their own demise, like throwing themselves under cars or running off cliffs, then this could indicate awareness of death and thus be considered suicide. A much more plausible explanation for the fatal inactivity of dogs and other intelligent mammals is that they are paralyzed by feelings of grief and loss. Observed behavior does not suggest that they know that their lives will cease.
  • Tarsiers have been known to intentionally injure or kill themselves due to unhappiness or stress of being in an enclosure. Because of this reason they are not in zoos. In captivity, the tarsier can be so extremely distressed it may die of psychological trauma and have even been reported to smash their heads against objects resulting in fatality.
  • Some zoologists have noted that African Elephantsdeliberately pick up and scatter the bones of deceased elephants. This could be taken as a sign that they are aware of their own mortality, but elephants do not engage in nearly the range of behaviors we would expect if they were truly aware that they could die. The bone scattering could be explained in a variety of other ways. It could, for example, be a simple survival behavior that hides their migration routes or feeding patterns.
  • As opposed to elephants, all known human cultures indicate their awareness of death in many different ways. Even though the world's cultures have tremendously different ideas about what happens to an individual after life ends, they all agree that some dramatic change of state occurs at the moment of death. Moreover, each culture indicates its awareness of mortality through a combination of rituals, taboos, myths, and linguistic expressions. In order to conclude that a species is aware of either life or death, it should also exhibit a broad range of indicative behaviors. No known animal engages in a sufficiently wide range behaviors that could exhibit awareness of either life or death. Without such an awareness, animals cannot be said to commit suicide even though they may inadvertently kill themselves.
  • It has also been observed that, under the right circumstances, scorpions

    will commit suicide by repeatedly stinging themselves in the head. These circumstances generally involving very high temperature situations. This behavior is likely an attempt by the scorpion to use its neural toxin to alleviate its current discomfort. Because scorpions show no other signs of being aware that such a thing as death exists, we have no reason to call this suicide.

  • Some animals die because of their own actions but it is difficult to classify that as Suicide. When certain bees sting or mate, they lose their stinger and die from that injury. There is little evidence suggesting that bees know that the use of their stinger will result in their own death.
  • The same occurs when some types of spiders mate. The male is sometimes eaten by the female shortly after the copulate. Then in other situations the female has her eggs hatch within herself so they can have a nutritious meal as they eat their way out. The same is the case with Praying Mantises. Either after (or DURING) the mating process, the female eats the males head and eventually the rest of his body.
  • All of these examples suggest that animals can kill themselves under certain circumstances but that they do so inadvertently. Even depressed animals who are clearly suffering great emotional pain, do not seem to be aware that their inactivity will lead to their own death.
  • Lemmings also are said to take their own lives. Seeing as these fat little rodents can't swim, they sink. So when they leap into the water -forgot why the heck they do- they sink.
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Q: Do any animals other than humans commit suicide?
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Related questions

Do other Animals ever think of Committing Suicide other then Humans?

No. Animals have the pure need to stay alive.

How do you get other aware of no to suicide?

You must tell them that life is to short and, only cowards commit suicide even if it takes courage to commit suicide.

Why do farmers commit suicide?

Farmer's may commit suicide for the same reasons other people would, depression.

Why did the chicken commit suicide?

To get to the "other side."

Is cutting a sure way to commit suicide?

It is not. There is no sure way to commit suicide, but cutting is less sure than other methods.

Why'd the chicken commit suicide?

To get to the other side.

What people or groups of people are at risk of suicide?

you are more likely for suicide in rural areas, whites are more likely to commit suicide then other races.

Why do people commit suicide while in prison?

Some people in prison commit suicide because they cannot handle the cruelty; possible rape; beatings by other prisoners or, some commit suicide because they cannot mentally handle being caged up or feel they have no chance of being released from prison.

Do other Animals ever think of Committing Suicide other than Humans?

If you put a Scorpion inside a ring of fire they panic and eventually they will sting themselves to death.

Did other Fall Out Boy members try to commit suicide?

Nope.. only pete

Did Justin bieber really cause somebody too commit suicide?

No. It is not possible for anyone to force anyone to commit suicide. Suicide is a choice like every other thing a person does. No one is ever responsible for what anyone does to them, but that person is 100% responsible for what they do with it.

Can suicide pass through your kids?

If you mean can they inherit the tendency to commit suicide, no. But they can have emotional problems that are a result of the family matrix, drug abuse, or other problems that may lead to suicide.