#4 Suicide as Shameful or Insane
     (Cornelius Osgood, 1937)

Another cause of death is suicide. To kill oneself is considered a shameful act, but it may be done nonetheless. The corpse of such a person receives special treatment. There is no regular funeral and the body is put on top of some other grave. Even the spirit is destined for a distinctive afterworld.

A woman who has decided to take her own life ideally bathes and puts on new clothes. Females apparently prefer to die by hanging. The girl may use her inside belt, another line of babiche, or one of braided willow bark. No knot is required if the inner belt is chosen since one end will be simply inserted through the slit in the other. Otherwise, a slip knot serves. The girl, perhaps crazy from frustrated love, goes into the woods, climbs up in some willows, puts the cord around her neck, and fastens the end to a fork in the branches. After she jumps off she may kick around for a long time and consequently may be cut down before she is dead. Saving her life is said to be useless, however, for she will probably be successful on a second attempt.

Sometimes an old man will strangle himself with a line, but men who are not old more often drive a knife or arrow into the heart. A man would not drown himself, as most rationalize that this method is painful. For whatever reason and however it is done, suicide is considered a form of insanity.

The Ingalik take an unfavorable view of the abandonment of individuals where such an act leads inevitably to their death. As previously mentioned, in the desperate times of starvation, abandonment does take place, but then no choice is considered to be involved. Also old people are occasionally left behind in a winter village if they have no one to look after them. Such unfortunates may strangle themselves. However, should healthy, active members of a family remove to their summer camp leaving relatives helpless, they would gain a very bad reputation for doing so. Ingalik claim that when traveling they will not abandon living people for any reason. If they did so, others would laugh at them and simply say that they had killed the individuals that they had left.

[#4] Cornelius Osgood, Ingalik Social Culture. Yale University Publications in Anthropology, no. 53. Field date 1937. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1958): 148.

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#4 Suicide as Shameful or Insane
     (Cornelius Osgood, 1937)

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