The Economics of Suicide

Damian Valery, Praveen Miranda, Hrishikesh Pande

Abstract


On April 8th 1994 Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, was found dead in his Seattle home of an apparent shotgun wound to the head and with three times the lethal amount of heroin in his system. A note lay at the scene. The verdict was suicide. Others are sceptical.’ (from www.deathofkurtcobain.com) In the pall of gloom surrounding Michael Jackson’s recent death when we read this extract from a site dedicated to Kurt Cobain, a number of questions struck us as being interesting. Why do famous celebrities commit suicide? Could the reasons be monetary, social or some other phenomenon? Why would such renowned personalities give up an apparent life of luxury? In furthering our understanding of these issues it strikes us as pertinent to ask whether we can ever view suicide from the perspective of an economist. Can we assess human behaviour pertaining to suicide using the ration al science of economics or are we treading on unknown territory in psychiatry instead? Consider a quote by the famous economist Gary Becker from his book The Economic Approach to Human Behaviour’

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/dpibe2009vol2no1art198

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