Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/234

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

But much more correct than this comprehensive comparison is that between the proselytes of different religions in the same country, because then the political and social conditions do not vary, and the due homogeneity of comparative data remains the same. Statistics, however, are liable to another error; in most cases the religion of the suicide is not registered, and the column of the unknown always predominates over the others. It is sufficient to cite the Prussian statistics of the two years 1871-'72, in which, out of 5,673 registered suicides, quite 3,703 (65 per cent.) can give no answer to the question of the religion professed by the suicides. Nevertheless, we have been able to ascertain the frequency of suicide among individuals of different religions in thirty-seven countries, as our tables show.

In these thirty-seven comparisons of different countries and periods, hardly four show the Catholics superior in numbers of suicides to Protestants, Jews, and Greeks (Galicia, Buckowina, Military Frontiers, and Transylvania), and one only, also with doubts as to its being an error, gives the higher number to the Jews (? Lower Austria); but in the remainder the larger proportions are always offered by the Protestant religion, whether Lutheran or Reformed. The most frequent order in which the various religions follow each other is this: Protestants, Catholics, and Jews; and next in order of frequency come Protestants, Jews, and Catholics. Looking next at the position held by the Oriental Christians, it will be found that once only, and then it was among the Greek Catholics or Uniates, they gave the largest proportion to suicide (Military Frontiers); as a rule, their proportion is always lower than that of the Protestants, often also than that of the Catholics of the West. The inferiority in numbers of the Greeks is most apparent in Transylvania, where the Catholics occupy the first place, followed by the Uniates, then by the Lutherans and Calvinists, and lastly, at a long interval, by the United or non-united Greeks. The peculiar position occupied by Jews in relation to Catholics deserves attentive investigation. Jews are in general more subject to mental alienation than either Catholics or Protestants. In Bavaria, for instance, we find one insane in every 908 Catholic inhabitants, in every 967 Protestants, and every 514 Jews. In Hanover the reports give respectively one in 527 Catholics, in 641 Protestants, and in every 337 Jews. In Würtemberg one in every 2,006 Catholics, in 2,022 Protestants, and in 1,544 Jews; and in Denmark in like manner, while there is one insane person in every 1,750 among the Jewish population, there is one in every 2,000 of other religions. In Italy also, since the asylums have been opened to Jews, their contingent has been very considerable (Lambroso, Livi). Is the explanation to be sought in their race, their religion, or their customs? Dr. Martini (of Leubus) would refer it to their frequent consanguineous marriages; but in truth the supposed evils arising from the consanguinity of parents have yet to be proved. To us it seems more