- Animals of all sorts kill themselves.
- Animal suicides can teach us a lot about human suicides.
- For centuries people either denied animal suicides or took them as evidence of human-like intentions.
Whether it's a grieving dog, a depressed horse or even a whale mysteriously beaching itself, there is a long history of animals behaving suicidally, behavior that can help explain human suicide, says newly published research.
The idea that animals could actually be very good models for human suicide started to take root in the 20th century, said Edmund Ramsden, one of the authors of the study published in the latest issue of the journal Endeavour, along with Duncan Wilson of the University of Manchester.
"You begin to challenge the definition of suicide. The body and mind are so damaged by stress and so it leads to self destruction. It's not necessarily even a choice," Ramsden told Discovery News.
"It becomes reversed, in a sense," said Ramsden. Animal and human suicides are no longer seen as willful acts but as responses to conditions.