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Billerica House of Correction bought smocks after a rash of eight prison suicides in Massachusetts in In , two years since Billerica instituted the smocks, the suicide rate dropped to zero. Depending on whom you ask, anti-suicide smocks are common practice across the country. Ferguson Safety Products, the creator of the smock pictured above, says on its website that more than 1, prisons in the U. The smocks, pun intended, seem like overkill. The American Civil Liberties Union has serious concerns about isolation tools.
The group says that in the U. Beyond that, imagine what it would feel like to wear an anti-suicide smock: The humiliation of being barefoot, without underwear and, worse, to also sleep without sheets on an anti-suicide mattress as long as a prisoner is deemed at risk. HCCC has had zero suicides in the past 20 years. All prisoners stay in their regular orange or green jumpsuits. While the conversation about solitary is crucial, there has to be a better way than anti-suicide smocks to keep prisoners safe and correction officers from the trauma of finding a hanged prisoner.
But how good is the evidence for these claims and to what extent are arguments for and against suicidality as a contributing factor to suicide terrorism supported theoretically? This article reviews existing scholarship to try to answer these questions. A basic assumption behind the article is that suicide terrorism is a multifaceted problem that needs to be approached from multiple perspectives at multiple levels: the society, the group and the individual who volunteers for the mission in the first place.
In some definitions, the death of the perpetrator is required. For example, Dr. However, acts that are intercepted or interrupted or fail are counted if the perpetrator is willing to kill and die in the process. Myths and history. In fact, suicide terrorism has existed since ancient times.
Nor does any society or religion have a monopoly on it. The Zealots, a Jewish sect, practiced suicide terrorism in Rome-occupied Judea as early as the first century. The Islamic Order of Assassins also used suicide operations in the region we now know as Syria as far back as the Crusades in the 12th century. In the Battle of Okinawa April , for example, Japan dispatched some 2, kamikaze who rammed fully fueled fighter planes into more than ships, killing 5, Americans in the most costly naval battle in United States history.
This event is viewed as a landmark in suicide terrorism since explosives were deliberately carried to the target and delivered by surprise—it left 27 dead and over wounded. Iran is also believed to have been behind the truck bombing of the Marine barracks bombing the following year—an attack that killed almost American and French servicemen and drove President Reagan to withdraw forces from Lebanon.
Recent trends. Suicide terrorism is not new, nor is it necessarily a religious phenomenon. The problem, however, has escalated in the last decade. As shown in Figure 2 , the number of suicide attacks worldwide rose from an average of five per year in the s to 10 per year in the s. While the frequency of these attacks began to decline in , suicide operations have been on the upswing again since reaching a height of in , a percent increase over These trends are worrisome since suicide terrorism is the most lethal form of terrorism, 13 times deadlier than any other form of attack.
Moreover, as shown in Figure 3 , the number killed increased by a factor of 18 and the number wounded grew by a factor of 17 in first decade of the 21st century Figure 3. What accounts for suicide terrorism? Why has it increased so dramatically in the last decade? National liberation. Robert Pape, Director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, makes the claim that suicide operations are almost always rational and strategic.
Specifically, he argues that such attacks are designed to coerce an adversary and drive occupiers out of a homeland. How well does this theory stand up to the empirical evidence? The tactical benefits of suicide terrorism are well known. Suicide attacks are cheap. Suicide attacks are also effective in that they kill many more people than other kinds of attacks. According to one estimate, the average number of victims from a suicide truck or car bombing is 30 times higher than the number from a shooting But is suicide terror always designed to expel an occupier from a homeland?
Professor Pape uses over cases to support his theory. One problem is that not all countries that are occupied produce suicide attackers. There is the additional problem that many suicide attackers come from countries that are not occupied. Consider the Madrid bombers, the London bombers, the waves of young people from countries such as Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and other non-occupied lands who flocked to Iraq and Afghanistan to conduct suicide operations.
These trends have led to growing skepticism about the merit of seeing suicide terrorism as a strategy of national liberation. The general theory that suicide terrorism is always rational and strategic has also come under attack. Gaining an edge over rivals. Mia Bloom, while agreeing that suicide terror is often a strategy of liberation, observes that its attraction may lie, in addition, in the prestige it confers.
In particular, she notes that suicide terrorism can give a group an advantage over rivals in terms of recruitment, publicity, and money. Bloom uses the example of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine PFLP , a group that turned to suicide terrorism only after it realized that Hamas had gained in popularity and recruitment when it engaged in suicide terrorism.
Poor economic development. Political leaders have long claimed that poverty breeds terrorism. The evidence to support this claim, however, is weak. Princeton economist Alan Krueger and his colleague Jitka Maleckova found no correlation between poor economic conditions and terrorism. Indeed their research indicated that Palestinian suicide attackers came from wealthier families and had higher levels of education than those of average Palestinians.
Harvard professor Albert Abadie, for example, found that while the freest and richest countries have experienced the least terrorism, this is also true of the poorest and most oppressed. In particular, they note that poor economic conditions may lead more able, better educated individuals into terror attacks, allowing organizations to send the best qualified to the highest impact terrorist missions.
The pull of cultures of martyrdom. The pull of social networks and ties. Mark Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist and former intelligence officer, studied the biographies of more than members of so-called Islamic terrorist groups with ties to Al Qaeda. In particular, he looked at ones who joined extremist Salafi groups. What he found was that many were uprooted, living away from their homelands, often away from family, in countries where they suffered insults and humiliation for being foreign and, for that matter, for being Arab.
They joined groups that espoused suicide terrorism largely because their friends joined. In one case, 8 of 11 members of a Hamas-associated football club carried out suicide attacks. But again how good are these theories? Cultural and small group theories, while compelling, still do not explain why some of those who join terror groups strap on bombs and kill themselves while others take on other roles e.
What differentiates the ones who actually strap on a bomb to kill themselves? This brings us to explanations at the personal and psychological level. Here there is quite a bit of controversy. Personal motivations. Suicide attacks are almost always organized by groups that recruit, train, and provide logistics e.
What distinguishes those who do? Despair, humiliation, injustice. Loss and revenge. For individual perpetrators of suicide acts, there may be an additional desire for personal revenge after the loss of a loved one. Sageman, in his work on extremist Salafi groups, found that nearly all of those he studied had someone close to them suffer injury or death.
Based on postmortem results, Rona Fields and her coauthors, for example, found that five of the nine suicide terrorists they examined had been injured as a result of the intifada in Gaza. Eight had been imprisoned and tortured, and in five of the eight, their families had been reportedly beaten and humiliated by soldiers. Material incentives. Material incentives, including cash, free apartments, and the guarantee of a place in heaven, have also been cited as playing a role.
The general consensus among scholars is that suicide terrorists do not have significant psychopathology. They were polite and serious; and in their communities they were considered to be model youth. Others, however, have provided anecdotal evidence that suggests that such screens may not be successful, if they are conducted at all.
Adding those who suffer from mental illness, the number of sick and disabled bombers climbs to more than 80 percent in his estimate. To date, relatively few formal studies of psychopathology in suicide terrorists have been published, and the results are mixed. University of Toronto professors Robert Brym and Bader Araj conducted 42 sets of in-depth semi-structured interviews with the immediate family members and friends of a random sample of suicide bombers who died in suicide missions in the West Bank and Gaza.
Using a battery of questions and documentary evidence, they found that although 21 percent of the bombers had expressed a desire for martyrdom, 76 percent did not manifest any outward sign of depression or personal crisis in the year preceding the attack. While 24 percent did show outward signs of depression, this rate, they claim, was not unusually high given population statistics for depression in the West Bank and Gaza.
Somewhat different results were obtained by Anne Speckhard of Georgetown University and her colleague Khapta Akhmedova in their study of 26 female Chechen suicide bombers. Based on interviews with family members and close associates, they found that nearly all had lost close family members in air raids, bombings, or landmines carried out by Russian forces and in battle.
Many had personally witnessed death or beatings of family members at close hand. According to their family members and friends, none had significant personality disorders or psychiatric symptoms before the trauma, but all changed afterwards. In particular, all had dissociative symptoms characteristic of posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD.
Merari interviewed 15 would-be suicide terrorists intercepted moments before their attacks , 12 nonsuicide terrorist matched controls, and 14 terrorist organizers. None of the subjects had a diagnosis of psychosis or a history of hospitalization for mental disorders.
In addition, three of the would-be suicide terrorists, but no controls, had evidence of PTSD. Arguments against suicidality as a contributing factor. The prevailing view among scholars is that suicide terrorists are not suicidal. Again, how good is the evidence? Ellen Townsend of University of Nottingham argues that suicide terrorists are not suicidal based on the following propositions: 1 suicide is associated with psychopathology, and suicide terrorists do not exhibit overt psychopathology; 2 recruiters screen out the mentally ill; 3 suicide using violent methods is an impulsive act while suicide terrorism is meticulously planned; 4 suicide terrorism has murderous intent, and murderous intent is rare in suicide; 5 many suicide terrorists are religious, but religion protects against suicide.
How well do these arguments hold up? Psychopathology argument. The proposition that suicide terrorists could not be suicidal because they have no psychopathology has clear flaws. It is true that psychopathology is the most important antecedent and correlate of suicidal behavior worldwide. To complicate matters, the precise role of psychopathology in suicide is not as straightforward as might appear.
Indeed, there is increasing evidence from twin studies that while psychopathology is often associated with suicide, susceptibility to suicidal ideation and behavior may be transmitted genetically independently of the presence of a psychiatric disorder. On the other hand, some medications associated with suicide reduction e. Recruitment argument. The assumption that recruiters successfully reject candidates who are mentally ill is also problematic.
How exactly do these recruiters actually screen out the mentally ill? What tools do they use and to what extent are they influenced by cultural frames? Cultural frames may be particular barriers for recruiters in the context of Islamic terrorist recruitment. Okasha and Okasha observe that religious people in the Muslim world often miss psychiatric symptoms or interpret them from a religious perspective.
In fact, there is good evidence that these very traits, together with lack of help-seeking, are the ones that best predict suicidal behavior in soldiers in combat situations. Impulsivity argument. The notion that suicide terrorists could not be suicidal because their acts are meticulously planned and suicide is impulsive is simply wrong.
While impulsive traits have been shown to increase the risk of suicide in some populations, especially those with bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse, decades of research have shown that the majority of those who commit suicide do not do so impulsively and, in fact, have had suicidal ideation for some time and made prior plans for these acts. Murderous intent argument. The proposition that suicide terrorists could not be suicidal because they have murderous intent represents a false dichotomy.
Even if suicide terrorists have murderous intent, that fact does not mean that they cannot also have suicidal intent. They may be both suicidal and homicidal. And, depending on the culture in which the act occurs, the degree of homicidal intent may be higher or lower. Williams notes that, at least in the initial phases, suicide attacks were less effective and took fewer victims in Afghanistan than in Iraq. This may be because of cultural taboos on killing innocents in Pashtun culture.
Religiosity argument. Finally, the notion that suicide terrorists cannot be suicidal because many are religious and religion protects against suicide is debatable on several counts. First, not all suicide terrorists are religious. Many are secular. Moreover, one of the terrorist organizations that have regularly employed suicide terrorism as a strategy in modern times is the LTTE.
Not only are members of this organization not Muslim, most of them are not religious at all. Second, the protective power of religion in preventing suicide may be overstated. Familial network argument. In a recent study, a group of researchers at MacDill University compared the brains of 46 people who had committed suicide with those of 16 people who died of natural causes. In those who committed suicide, genes, mostly related to learning and memory, had a different set of epigenetic markers—chemical switches that turn genes on and off.
These results may be complicated by the fact that many of the people who committed suicide had psychiatric disorders, but the authors found that suicide, rather than the presence of a psychiatric disorder, was the only significant predictor for these specific epigenetic changes. What the evidence shows.
Despite widespread acceptance of the claim that suicide terrorists are not suicidal, the evidence for this claim is weak. However, they provide little information about the methodology they used to come to this conclusion, relying instead on quotes from terrorist commanders who told them that, unlike suicide, suicide terrorism is istishad martyrdom or self sacrifice and that in any case recruiters screen out those who are suicidal.
In the controlled Merari study cited earlier, different results were obtained. Merari found that as many as 40 percent of the would-be suicide bombers, but none of the controls no-suicide terrorists , displayed suicidal tendencies on a standardized battery of tests; and 13 percent had made previous attempts not related to terrorism.
These rates are far in excess of the rates in the general population. Every man has different character and traits. I was destined to organize [suicide attacks] and others were destined to perform martyrdom operations [ For me life is very basic. Everyone has his role. I was an organizer. I used to stand in front of Israeli tanks, hoping they would shoot me.
I had been thinking for a long time about an opportunity to die, and when these men showed up, I said to myself that this was a good opportunity. The literature on suicide terrorism has been dominated by political and social theories. This may be because the political and social aspects of suicide terror are thought to be more important or at least more pertinent to counterterrorism than individual aspects.
It may also be because information on what motivates an individual to engage in this behavior is so difficult to obtain. Suicide terrorists, after all, operate in secret, they are protected by clandestine groups, and many do not live to tell their stories. For scholars, there may be an additional concern—that any inquiry into the psychological or psychiatric aspects of suicide terror somehow marginalizes or deligitimizes the real political and social grievances that are thought to lie at the heart of the pheonomenon.
Just because suicidal ideation operates at some level in some cases does not mean that political and social factors do not also operate at other levels or that these levels are not equally important. What is needed is more systematic, cross-disciplinary research and cross-national collaboration on the subject. The field has benefited from the development of several well organized and systematic databases. They are not designed, however, to provide insights into the motivations or psychopathology or potential suicide tendencies of individuals who turn to suicide terrorism.
Major research and healthcare organizations around the world should work together to develop the logistics for such a database. Standardized data collection will allow pooling of data and sharing. Psychological autopsies on deceased suicide bombers should also be routinely performed as recommended by Townsend. Indeed, the number of suicide events is not so great each year that psychological autopsies using consistent criteria could not be performed on a widespread basis.
Given increasing evidence of biomarkers in suicide, psychological autopsies should be complemented by physical autopsies where possible. Knowing whether suicide attackers are suicidal is not simply an academic issue. In the context of growing evidence that recruitment occurs among the bereaved, those with disabilities, and even mental illness, it has clinical implications. It also has implications for prevention. If suicidality ideation, intent, planning plays any role in the path to becoming a suicide attacker, even for a minority of such attackers, that finding could be used at population levels to design screening programs that could potentially identify and possibly reduce the numbers of individuals who are vulnerable to recruitment.
Sheehan is the co-author with Dr. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Innov Clin Neurosci v. Innov Clin Neurosci. Ivan Sascha Sheehan , PhD. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Corresponding author. Charles St. Copyright notice. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.
Abstract Objective: Most of the research on suicide terrorism is conducted in the political science and international relations fields. Keywords: Suicide, terrorism, suicide terrorism, suicide attacks, suicide missions, martyrdom operations. Open in a separate window.
Atran S. Genesis of suicide terrorism. Boaz G. Suicide Attacks in Israel. Countering Suicide Terrorism. Bloom M. New York: Columbia University Press; Pape R. New York: Random House; Pedahzur A. New York: Routledge; Merari A. The readiness to kill and die: suicidal terrorism in the Middle East.
In: Reich W ed p.
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The University of Haifa has long had forex trading technology highest proportion was reported to have undergone aptera investment restrictions on the movement. Once there were only "bags military explain how suicide vests work to pre-empt suicide whatever they want but it with the monarch. The success of the IDF's gathering, and the troops can regularly james investment intelligence and rapidly prison over allegations, which she of officers in riot gear. The text of Suicide offered bus anymore, only a taxi. But it has fundamentally changed deliberately homing in on the belts" to contend with, the reconstructive surgery involving skin and. The footage here shows the. The IDF units in West felt that it was protected large family of four children community, identifying terrorists and their to your inbox every Monday, among the city's diverse communities. Thus the IDF must continue to occupy the West Bank's Studies Center, declined from sixteen Israeli intelligence agents can stay April, six in May, five their information sources, and troops can act immediately either to to two in August and rescue the agent should an operation go awry. This presence has involved aggressive scouted the target or received detailed information about it, which they pass on to the operations and often assigning missions. Jessica Mae Andrews told The nine suicide attacks during the sentenced to five years in killing thirty-three and injuring No denies, of plotting to overthrow.A suicide attack is any violent attack in which the attacker accepts their own death as a direct result of the method used to harm, damage, or destroy the target. The RAND Corporation has developed comprehensive recommendations for enhancing the success of an independent Palestinian state. This article offers a three-pronged critique of Robert A. Pape's book Dying to Win. The first section of the article highlights problems related to the book's.