Bering plumbs the science behind suicide, after the recent press reports of teen gay ones:
[T]he suicidal organism is not consciously weighing the costs of its own survival against inclusive fitness gains. Redback spiders and bumblebees aren’t mindfully crunching the numbers, engaging in self-sacrificial acts of heroic altruism, or waxing philosophically on their own mortality. Instead, they are just puppets on the invisible string of evolved behavioral algorithms, with neural systems responding to specific triggers. And, says evolutionary neurobiologist Denys deCatanzaro, so are suicidal human beings whose emotions sometimes get the better of them. ...
People are most likely to commit suicide when their direct reproductive prospects are discouraging and, simultaneously, their continued existence is perceived, whether correctly or incorrectly, as reducing inclusive fitness by interfering with their genetic kin’s reproduction. Importantly, deCatanzaro, as well as other independent researchers, have presented data that support this adaptive model.
Elsewhere Tom Rees follows a study on suicidal feelings among college students and the role that religion plays:
[The survey] found a third factor that was even more important than religion and social support. That factor was "Existential Well-Being", which relates to things such as feeling fulfilled and satisfied with life, and finding meaning and purpose in life.
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