The Klamath Indians are very much prejudiced against one taking their own life. They look down on the act, and if one should take his own life, which we call o-motch-ser-mer-yer, there is no chance for them to be saved and they go down the broad road that leads to the old woman and she gives them over to the man in the boat and he takes them over and leaves them in the wilderness where they live in misery until the judgement (sic) day and then are destroyed forever, there being no salvation for them and the family will be looked down upon for many generations to come and held back in taking part in any of their social functions. The children will be shunned by their playmates. The Indian seldom commits suicide and will avoid self-destruction by wishing that some wild animal will take them while they sleep, and of such cases they tell some very weird and touching tales. There was a girl taken by a wild animal…
Another was a young man of good family belonging to the Pee-wan village and he wanted to marry a girl of the upper division. The young woman refused him and this nearly broke his heart, so he went back into the mountains all alone and there he busied himself by trapping and hunting until he had accumulated great riches of valuable furs and other things and was there for a number of years when he returned to his home. He never married and lived to be an old man and all the children called him grandpa. As he became old he also became blind but the children all loved him and any of them were always ready to lead him wherever he wanted to go, and he was always ready to give blessings to the newly married couples and to newly born babies. He always wanted to visit where there was a new born baby. This old man would sweep and keep clean the village, even down to the creek and river, feeling and sweeping the whole day long and when he was tired some of the children would lead him home, and he thus lived to a good old age. So this is the way it would go in accordance with their belief in the hereafter. A Klamath Indian would never commit suicide if there was any way to prevent it on account of the stigma it would place on the family.
[#39] Klamath: L[ucy] Thompson, To the American Indian [later subtitled Reminiscences of a Yurok Woman] Eureka, CA: Cummings Print Shop, 1916, pp. 76-77.
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#39 The Stigma of Suicide
(Lucy Thompson, 1916)
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