Slaves and Suicide

For most it seems the knee-jerk reaction to the word “suicide” usually includes the words “depression” (if not “crazy”) and “selfish,” but Durkheim described “altruistic suicide,” suicide to benefit others.

I recently met author Blair McDowell who enlightened me to the fact that while slavery remained legal different tribes seemed to display different characteristics that might determine their appeal to slavers. She told me individuals from one tribe, the African Ebeos, often killed themselves.

Who can know what motivated them to choose death over slavery (hardly a choice we can dismiss as “crazy”), but it occurs to me that such arguably unselfish behavior might have led slavers to pass up other Ebeos, saving them from a similar fate.

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