Altruistic suicide  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Altruistic suicide is suicide committed for the benefit of others. Falling on a grenade is one such example. Émile Durkheim notes that tribal people sometimes see it as their duty to commit suicide, as when a wife kills herself after her husband dies, or a man kills himself in old age; but Durkheim also observes that altruistic suicide is unlikely to occur much in modern western society where “individual personality is increasingly freed from the collective personality.” Altruistic suicide has been described as an evolutionarily stable strategy. Altruistic suicide has a long history in India, even being noted in the Dharmashastras. Some perceive self-immolation as an altruistic or "worthy" suicide.

Cultural references

  • In the Power Rangers series, Power Rangers in Space, in their season finale, Countdown to Destruction, Part 2, long-standing franchise character Zordon instructs Andros to destroy his energy tube, which would destroy all the evil in the universe at the time, but take him with them.
  • In Alien 3, Ellen Ripley, the main heroine of the Alien franchise, learns that she has an unborn alien queen inside of her, which the Weyland-Yutani company plan to exploit as a bioweapon. She subsequently jumps into a vat of molten lead so the new alien queen cannot be born and reproduce.
  • The film The Ledge centres on a character who commits suicide in order to save the life of another.
  • The film Seven Pounds portrays a man who commits suicide and donates seven of his organs.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Altruistic suicide" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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