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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

White wilderness .............. animal suicide ?

‘White Wilderness’ was  a  Walt Disney produced nature documentary that came in 1958.   The film was directed by James Algar and narrated by Winston Hibler.  It contained a  scene that supposedly depicted a mass lemming migration ending with the lemmings leaping into the Arctic Ocean.

Suicide is "the act or an instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally," according to Merriam-Webster, and most experts don't believe animals are capable of such a deed. However, that's not to say animals do not, on occasion, die in mysterious ways that may appear to mimic suicide. Suicide is often committed out of despair, the cause of which can be attributed to a mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse. Stress factors such as financial difficulties or troubles with interpersonal relationships often play a significant role.

People sometimes are too sentimental and react violently… do you know or remember that way back in 1987, many committed suicide on hearing the death of MGR.  It has been a curse that some set fire to themselves for the cause of their leaders leaving their families in wilderness. Napier Bridge, Adyar bridge, Hamilton bridge, Maraimalai adigal bridge and more….. Chennai has no great rivers but – still there are many bridges.. and in someways they are infamous too….  In Dec 2012 at the peak of Carnatic music season tragedy befell on one of the singers – Nithyasree.. in a sad development Mr V Mahadevan, husband of the popular Carnatic vocalist, committed suicide by jumping into the Adyar river from the Kotturpuram bridge- it was mid day and reportedly some people saw the car stop, a man coming out and jumping into the river.   He is not alone…….. he only joined many others who had leapt from the Chennai bridges ending their lives…  Chennai Corporation had to resort to increasing the height of parapet walls of these facilities. 

The sarus crane (Grus antigone) is a large non-migratory crane found in parts of the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia. The tallest of the flying birds, Sarus crane is easily distinguished from other cranes in the region by the overall grey colour and the contrasting red head and upper neck. Like other cranes, they form long-lasting pair-bonds and maintain territories within which they perform territorial and courtship displays.   In India they are considered symbols of marital fidelity, believed to mate for life and pine the loss of their mates even to the point of starving to death.

Animal suicide is a hugely controversial issue in the world of animal research and psychology, because although there are numerous documented instances of animals seemingly intentionally ending their own lives, no one is exactly sure whether these cases can technically be classified as suicide. Daily Mail reports of an incident captured by a Chinese women when the swan appeared to drown itself asking whether it is a proof of animals committing suicide.

Hiker Yan Yan Hsiao captured the moment the swan appeared to commit suicide. She said she only noticed the young bird because it was making a commotion and flapping its wings in the water. Apparently traumatised by the death of another bird, the swan stuck its head in the water, and minutes later, was also dead.  She said she had been taking photographs of the swan not realising she was capturing its death at the park lake in Sanmenxia, in Central China's Henan province.

Scientists have debated for years whether instances where an animal deliberately claims its own life because of depression can be classed as suicide. But examples date back to 1855, when the illustrated London News reported a dog had thrown itself into the water to drown and had repeated the action several times until passers-by finally allowed to sink. There have also been numerous cases of ducks apparently drowning themselves after the death of a mate.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

13th Jan 2015.

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