Death Taboos
     (Knud Rasmussen, 1921-24)

People who desire to put an end to their life should do so while others are looking on. Consequently it often happens that they get one of their relatives to strangle them. The cause may either be sorrow or sickness. People who wish to take their life in secret must themselves make a thong fast to the roof of the snow hut by means of a hole and a bar placed across it on the outside, and then seek death by hanging.

Nothing is known as to whether people who take their own life meet with any special fate after death: it is believed that they go where they would otherwise have gone.

If the death taboo is not observed the soul becomes… an evil spirit.

[#5] Knud Rasmussen, Intellectual Culture of the Copper Eskimos (Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition 1921-24) (Copenhagen: Gyldendalske Boghandel, Nordisk Forlag, 1932): 46-47.

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