Suicidal terrorism and the impact of a terrorist attack on suicidal behavior in the general population
Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute,
New York, New York, USA
Terror and Suicide. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2009, 167 pages.
Acts of terror, go back many hundreds, if not thousands, of years. A terrorist act is rarely an end in itself but is rather designed to instill fear in whole populations by targeting a small, representative group. Terrorism has achieved special prominence in the modern technological era.
Suicide bombing looks like suicide, but in important aspects it is incomparable with suicide. It is part of a political and military strategy. It has been suggested that suicide bombers have no underlying psychopathology, and that it is, in fact, their mental stability that helps them to endure pressure. Psychological strength, not weakness, may underlie the characters of the most effective terrorists.
The psychiatric sequellae of a terrorist attack may be similar to that following any other major traumatic event. Military psychiatry informs us that those (servicemen) who have psychiatric problems at the time of a traumatic event are most likely to have psychiatric problems later. Those without problems at the time are much less likely to develop them later.
The attacks of September 11, 2001, represented the largest act of terrorism in U.S. history. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were of such magnitude and meaning that their echoes will reverberate in the memories of Americans for many years. The impact of 9/11 on suicidal behavior in the general population in the U.S. and other countries is discussed.