#2 Are the Aleut Prone to Commit Suicide?
     (I. E. P Veniaminov, 1840)

The best proof of this [their love for children] is their former custom (not general, however) of taking one’s life from grief over the death of a beloved son or nephew. For example, if a son or nephew fell from a cliff, the father or uncle would also throw himself from the cliff. If the former drowned, the latter also hurled themselves into the sea, and so forth…

This cannot be considered suicide. Otherwise any sacrifice performed out of love for another person may be given that name…

 …The Athin Aleuts, as savages, did not know the value of their lives. When emotionally excited they willingly deprived themselves of life. For example, they committed suicide in an excess of grief or pity over the death of their relatives – of a son, nephew, husband, wife, etc. But children never took their lives out of grief for their dead parents no matter how greatly they may have loved them. Evidently this was their law. Sometimes the suicide was committed from disappointment at the failure of an undertaking. However, it was never done out of fear or cowardice except in cases where they saw that capture by an enemy was inevitable. Then they preferred death to slavery among their enemies or to being tortured to death by them…

Those who were most devoted to the deceased, if they did not take their lives in the first explosion of grief, fasted to the point of exhaustion.

[#2] I. E. P Veniaminov, Notes on the Islands of the Unalaska District. St. Petersburg: Russian-American Company, 1840: 28-29, 32-33.

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