Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/289

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277
LITERARY NOTICES.

tricts, provinces, and circles of Europe we form five groups, which we will call the North, West, Central, East, and South, we shall perceive the predominance of the central over the other four according to the method in which the countries indicated are placed in the scale of averages per million. In the center two thirds of the countries exceed the proportion of one hundred and fifty on the million; to the North about three quarters stand between fifty and one hundred and fifty, and in the South more than three quarters do not exceed the proportion of fifty suicides per million of inhabitants in the year."

But the influence of seasons over suicide is powerful. It varies greatly in different times of the year, and this variation is so regular that the number of those who will destroy themselves in the different months is predictable in each country. Many things about suicide are difficult to ascertain and more or less uncertain, but there is no doubt about the time of year; and it is entirely established that the maximum of suicide occurs in the hot season, and the minimum in the cold season. Fig. 1 is a copy of one of Morselli's diagrams showing the comparative monthly variation of suicide in five countries. By tracing each line representing a country, its height at each month indicates the proportion given in the left hand column.

We can not say anything here of the influence of geology or of meteorology, or of the moon, or of the days of the month, or

PSM V20 D289 Monthly curve of suicide in france italy norway belgium and denmark 1880-81.png

Fig. 1. Monthly Curve of Suicide in France, Italy, Norway, Belgium, and Denmark. (Maximum in June.)

of the hours of day or night, by all of which the rates of suicide are shown to be affected.

Under the title "Ethnological Influences," Dr. Morselli treats of races, stocks, nationalities, anthropological characteristics, and customs. As regards ethnic influences it is shown that the Germanic race is most addicted to suicide, while the two stocks, German and Scandinavian, divide this supremacy; the Jews, on the other hand, stand lowest in the scale. There seems to be a relation between suicide and anthropological characters, of which the following example is given: "The frequency of suicide in the various parts of Italy generally is in a direct ratio with stature, and the inclination to self-destruction increases from south to north as the stature of the Italians gradually increases."

The social environment, or social influences, affecting suicide are treated in a chapter of the work of great interest and instruction. The topics dealt with are the nature and effect of civilization; the influence of different forms of religious worship and creed; the effect of culture and instruction; the influence of public morality; general economical and political conditions; the density of population; and city and country life.

Chapter V is devoted to "The Influence