Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/236

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Protestant inhabitants of the same country. Where the tendency to suicide is great among the latter, it will be found to be also high among the former, as may be observed from the statistics already quoted of Baden, Würtemberg, Franconia, Galicia, Bavaria, etc. This follows from the moral and social condition of the various religionists being rendered locally identical. Wagner, Oettingen, and Legoyt reckon that they have established, from their study of the influence of religion on this matter, that "the inclination toward suicide in the inhabitants belonging to any particular worship, in any given country, will diminish in direct ratio with their numerical inferiority" According to Legoyt, suicide more rarely occurs in those persuasions which are numerically weak, because the struggle with the hostility and intolerance of the population in the midst of whom they live exercises on them a sort of moral coercion, making them desirous to avoid the harsh judgment held over them. As a matter of theory we can not deny the truth of this conclusion of Legoyt, as we well know how the spirit of association and the earnestness of religious convictions increase in proportion to the isolation into which any given congregation is cast when in the minority in a country. This influence of the surrounding atmosphere on religion is proved by the persistence and tenacity of the transmission of the Mosaic law through so many ages and migrations, and may explain the small tendency toward suicide among Jews. But at the same time an attentive examination of facts does not altogether bear out Legoyt's conclusion; for we find that it is scarcely ever that minorities furnish the smallest contingent to the register of suicide. For example, in Lower Bavaria, where Protestants are barely 8100 of the population, we find one hundred and forty-eight suicides in a million among them, whereas among Catholics, who compose nine tenths of the population, the number of suicides amounts to hardly twenty-eight in a million. In Brandenburg, where the Catholics are scarcely 3100 of the population, they show a threefold greater inclination for suicide than in Saxony, where they form half the population. And in Austria the Catholics, although in a minority in Galicia, Buckowina, the Military Frontiers, and Transylvania, yet show a greater tendency to suicide than either Greeks, Uniates, or Jews. The exceptions to the rule, therefore, are more numerous than the examples which should establish it. So far from it, if we consider the aggregate of the various countries of Europe, and that at the latest statistical period, it is easy to perceive that, where religious toleration has made more way, minorities begin to approximate the general average of their religion, the moral coercion of which Legoyt speaks is fast disappearing, and the unmixed influence of religion begins to tell with full force. The same thing happens with the Protestants of Baden, Würtemberg, and Austria, and in fact everywhere; notwithstanding that they form the minority, and in some cases a very considerable minority, the average of suicide is everywhere higher than that of the