Vaccine refusal as veiled suicide

As the author of a recently published book on suicide, I am proud to be a summer resident in a city that strives to promote awareness of and prevent such tragic deaths.

Lamentably, many people select overt modes of self-annihilation. That is, they jump off a bridge, dive under a train, slit their wrists, self-immolate, hang themselves, blow their brains out, or gulp down fistfuls of pills. Covert forms of suicide also abound. Psychiatrist Karl Menninger, who has been called the “grandfather of American suicidology,” wrote a treatise, “Man Against Himself,” in which he describes the almost limitless, veiled substitutes for the direct act of self-murder. These include inducing illness and eventual death by refusing life-saving medical treatment.

Menninger is not alone. Applying their own nomenclature, other experts acknowledge various forms of subtle suicide: For example, Sigmund Freud speaks of “half-intentional self-destruction” and “purposive accidents;” Edwin S. Shneidman calls it “indirect suicide” or “subintentioned death;” and Emile Durkheim labels it “embryonic suicide” where people imperil their own lives and make decisions loaded with mortal risks. Sometimes, these private tragedies become not so private when they endanger the lives of others.

Many people today keep asking the same question: Why in the world would someone refuse to get vaccinated? The answer: These are not individuals who truly believe conspiracy theories or envision a sinister government implanting chips in their body or fear that they will morph into magnets or cotton to Fox Jonestown-News. Rather, beneath such twaddle are individuals unconsciously craving and courting their own demise.

Dr. Amy D. Ronner

Aspen and Coral Gables, Florida


Letter to the Editor