Certain aspects of self-destructive behavior can be understood as an appeal for help in an intolerable situation made to one or more potential rescuers.3 Often the response of the person who receives such a communication is crucial for life or death. When the responses are inadequate, what are the reasons?
The concept "suicide" comprises such a wide variety of complex social-psychological phenomena that most investigators have limited themselves to special aspects.
For example, Stengel emphasized the social effects of suicidal behavior.11 Ordinarily suicide threats or attempts have a powerful social effect, tending automatically to induce or "release" rescuing activity from the environment. Indeed much of the rationale of a Suicide Prevention Center5 is provided by observations which indicate that potentially self-destructive persons are ambivalent about death. They communicate their suicidal preoccupation. Then others can give aid.
In a classical