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suicides by poison of that sex being 10:3. The per centage of suicides by prussic acid among females amounts only to 4.4, but that by the essential oil of almonds to 10:0, together forming a per centage of 14.4.

Ten different forms of poison are named as being made use of by male suicides and seventeen by female. Opium, in one form or other, was the poison made use of in 34.9 per cent. of the total number of suicides by poisoning in both sexes, and in which the kind of poison used is stated; prussic acid in its ordinary state, or as it exists in the essential oil of almonds, in 30.5 per cent. ; arsenic in 14:1 per cent., and oxalic acid in 12.2 per cent. Table of Suicides by Poisoning in England during the five years


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If the method of suicide be examined in reference to the age at which the deed was committed, the following results are obtained :

- The suicides connected with railways commence between the 15—25th years, and no instance is recorded after the 75th year, the greatest number (3) occurring between the 45—55th years. The suicides connected with mines commence between the 10–15th years, when one female suicide is recorded, and no instance is mentioned after the 75th year among males, and after the 65th among females. The greatest number of suicides perpetrated in this mode, contained in this class, occur between the 65—75th years among males, and between the 15—25th among females, the number of suicides from 45–55, and from 65—75, in the last-mentioned sex being equal. The suicides by mechanical injuries commence by one male suicide between the 10—15th years, and increase gradually until 35—45 among males, and 45—55 among females, and in each sex, after the maximum, the numbers decrease steadily until 85—95, after which period no case is recorded. The suicides connected with mechanical injuries com


mence also between the 10—15th years, two female suicides occurring within that period. Among males the number increases until the period 45–55, after which it decreases, and no case is recorded after the 85th year. Among females the maximum number occurs between the 15—25th years; decreases from 25–35; again increases within the period from 35—45, and then decreases until 75-85, after which no case is recorded. The suicides connected with asphyxia commence also in the period 10—15, and in both sexes the number increases gradually from period to period, until a maximum is reached in 45–55, after which it decreases until 85—95, no instance occurring after that period.

This is the progress of the actual number of suicides by different methods in both sexes, according to age; but if the progress be regarded in proportion to every 1,000,000 individuals living at the different periods of life indicated, the maxima of suicides by mechanical and chemical injuries and suspension of respiration do not coincide with the maxima of the total number of suicides by the methods thus classed. According to the calculation named, which shows most correctly the period of greatest tendency to this or that form of suicide, the maxima in the classes named occur at the following periods of life :-Mechanical injuries—males, 55–65; females, 65—75. Chemical injuries, both sexes, 45—55. Suspension of respiration-males, 55–65; females, 65–75.

If we examine also, according to age, particular methods of suicide calculated upon the same proportion of living, it is found that, among males, the number of cut-throats increased from 15—25 to 65—75, and then decreased; gun-shot wounds were in greater proportion between 15—20 than 25—35. After 35 the proportion increased until 55—65, decreased in the next decennial period, again increasing from 75—85. Poisoning increased from period to period until 45–55, when it reached a maximum, decreased from 50-65, increased in the next decennium, and then again decreased. Drowning increased gradually to a maximum in 55-65, then steadily decreased. Hanging increased from period to period until it reached a maximum in 55—85, then decreased to the last period of life. Among females, cut-throat increased until 45–55, decreased in 55—65, attained a maximum in 65–75, decreased in the decennium following, and again increased in 85-90. Poisoning increased from 10–15 to 15—25, decreased in 25—35, increased to a maximum in 45–55, decreased again in 65—75, and again increased in 75–85. Drowning increased from 10–15 to 15—25, decreased at a slight rate until 35—40, increased in 45–55, but varied only fractionally in the three decennial periods, 45–55, 55–65, and 65—75, the maximum being in 55—65, decreased considerably in 75-85, and again increased in the last decennial period 85—95. Hanging increased from 10–15 to a maximum in 65-75, then decreased rapidly throughout the remaining periods. These results may be regarded as a measure of the tendency to the different methods of suicide named at the periods of life stated.

The average annual proportion of the different methods of suicide at various ages to 1,000,000 living of each sex, during the years 1852-56, is shown in the following table :TABLE showing the average Annual proportion to 1,000,000

living of the different methods of Suicide in England and Wales during the five years 1852–56.

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The foregoing statistics, although chiefly valuable as presenting data for comparison with future returns, which it is to be hoped will now be regularly forthcoming from the Registrar-General's office, afford the materials for several deductions of greater or less precision.

1. The annual average number of suicides occurring in England and Wales in every 100,000 of the population, in the five years 1852—56, was, according to the preceding statistics, 5•81 ; and the annual average proportion per cent. in the total amount of deaths from all causes, 0-26. The third and sixth Annual Reports of the Registrar-General contain the statistics of the mortality from suicide in England and Wales for the three years 1838—40, and the annual average mortality of those years was 6.2 per 100,000 population, or 028 per cent. of the deaths from all causes. The average of the five years 1852-56, whether calculated

upon the population or total mortality, was, therefore, less than those of the three years 1838—10. But if a more legitimate comparison of equal periods be adopted, and the average of the three years 1854–56 compared with that of 1838–39, the results are different; for in the first mentioned three years the annual average of suicides was 7.0 per 100,000 population, or •3-4 per cent. of the deaths from all causes, being in excess of the annual average of 1838–40. A period of three years is not, however, sufficient to obviate the disturbances arising from the somewhat wide variations which appear to take place within short spaces of time in the number of deaths from suicide, hence no deduction can be safely drawn from the foregoing figures except in relation to the periods to which they refer. It may perhaps be surmised, the returns for 1838–40 being the only accessible returns for England and Wales previous to those for 1852—56, and consequently containing the only trustworthy data at our disposal, that no very satisfactory grounds exist for the opinion, not unfrequently entertained, that there has been a considerable increase in the mortality from suicide, in this kingdom, of late years. This surmise is strengthened somewhat by the consideration that the returns for 1852–56 exhibit, according to Dr. Farr, an improvement in precision and correctness as compared with those of 1838–40.

It would be well to ascertain, if it were practicable, the degree in which the ascertained number of suicides approximates to the actual number occurring in the kingdom. We already know that the total number of suicides contained in the Registrar-General's returns for 1856 was probably one-tenth below the number ascertained to have occurred by a coroner's inquest, and Dr. Marc d'Espine, in a work recently published (Essai Analytique et Critique de Statistique Mortuaire Comparée : 1858-p. 97), arguing from the acknowledged imperfections of the Registrar-General's returns for 1840, from the abhorrence of suicide in this country, and consequent supposed tendency of the friends of suicides to hush up the matter if practicable, and from the fact that the English returns for the year stated showed a proportion of suicides five times less than the annual average of the canton of Geneva, conceives that it is infinitely more probable that the number of suicides given in the Registrar-General's returns "constitute but a fifth part of the suicides which really take place in England annually." The annual average of suicides to the totnl mortality from all causes in the canton of Geneva during the thirteen years 1838–17, 1853-55, was 1:21 per cent. ; in England during the year 1840, 0.25 per cent. “But if," writes Dr. M. d'Espine, “about 1 per cent, of deaths from suicide is wanting, in what other classes NO. XIV.NEW SERIES.



of disease have the deaths been registered? One portion would be included among violent deaths, another would receive the names of divers affections. Let us suppose 0.40 per cent. already inscribed among violent deaths, and 0.60 per cent. scattered in the remainder of the nosological arrangement, it follows that in order to complete the per centage of the violent deaths to the total amount of deaths from all causes, it is necessary to add to it 0·60 per cent. of suicides entered fraudulently in the registers. This would raise the real proportion of violent deaths in England to 4 per cent. of the total mortality, a proportion nearly identical with ours (Geneva)."

The canton of Geneva may boast of having the most perfect mortality records in Europe. The smallness of the canton has favoured the institution of regulations respecting the registration of deaths, which enable the officers of health to verify the number of deaths and their causes. The records of death from suicide in the canton are, therefore, as perfect as it is, perhaps, possible for mortality records to be.

The annual average of deaths from suicide to the mortality from all causes, during a period of 13 years was, as already stated, 1:21 per cent. In England the per centage was 0:25, in 1840; 0:28, 1838–40; 0:26, 1852–56; Prussia, 0:38 (1850—2); Bavaria, 0·175 (seven years); Belgium, 0.23 (ten years); France, 0:26 (1843; Paris, 1.40); and Sardinia, 0:04 (1827–38)--the proportion in this last-mentioned country being six times less than in France and Belgium, nine times less than in Prussia, and thirty times less than in the canton of Geneva ! What is the source of the great variations observed in the preceding averages ? Are they to be assigned to difference of race, of hubits, or of modes of thought ? Or, is the explanation to be sought for in imperfections of the mortality statistics of the different countries? The last question is the one which first demands attention, for it is necessary to ascertain the worth of our data before we proceed to reason upon them. Now, Dr. M. d'Espine asserts, from the internal evidence of the returns of the countries referred to, and from the avowals of the authorities making the returns, that they are all more imperfect than the returns for the canton of Geneva, and that they differ greatly in degree of perfection among themselves : consequently, they cannot rightly be used in comparison with the returns of the canton or with one another. Moreover, he expresses the opinion that the most probable cause of the great differences observed in the annual average of the mortality from suicide in the different countries, is the greater or less degree of imperfection of their statistics, and he remarks that,

Good statistics, those subjected to a severe criticism of the signification and value of the figures they contain, lead us more

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