NOTHING is more misleading than the popular idea that suicide is necessarily the mark of an unsound mind. It may be so, of course, but it is not always. It sometimes occurs when the fundamental instinct of self-preservation is temporarily overbalanced by some overwhelming motive or emotion. When this is so, there may be no definite sign of it in the birth map; and its cause can only be traced in the progressed directions acting upon or exciting the whole forces of the personality.
In Map 137, for instance, of the “1001 Horoscopes,” there is no particular indication of the probably temporary derangement which ended in suicide. There were plenty of counter-influences which might have been taken advantage of at the time of danger. But in Map 171, on the other hand, we find a radically unbalanced mind with that unhappy conjunction again of Mars and Uranus both afflicting the Ascendant. Again, too, Mercury and Saturn are in conjunction, which is only less evil than their square. Of this map it might easily have been predicted that, when the temptation to suicide came, the native would yield to it. In poor Schumann’s case, something of the nature of a collapse at the end of life might have been foreseen from the sinister conjunction of the Sun and Mars in opposition to Saturn, while Uranus, elevated, afflicts Jupiter in the fourth house. Neptune also was afflicting both Sun and Moon from Gemini. (I have seven cases of Neptune afflicting other planets from Gemini with special disaster, and would ask other students to take note of this position, as our knowledge of the planet’s affinities, etc., is still in the making.)
Other aspects correlated with suicide I have found to be: Sun in Aquarius, Mars in Leo; both squaring Mercury in the third.—Moon conjunction Neptune in Gemini, with Saturn and Mars square to Mercury, the latter in the sixth. This brings us to the one perhaps reliable observation which holds good in this difficult matter.
There seems to be no doubt that Mercury afflicted in the sixth house brings a tendency to suicide. It may be strongly aspected as well, and even dignified; but one strong affliction from Uranus or Mars will give the tendency which may never be outgrown. To return to which I have cited as a remarkable case in this connection (Map 3). When this native’s adventures were discovered, and public disgrace threatened, she turned quite deliberately to suicide. The position was, of course, crucial; the result of her own incredible folly; and it involved the loss of honour and friends. Worst of all, she had forfeited her own self-respect; and in yielding to suicide as the only way out, she showed the strain of weakness which generally accompanies a Pisces Moon, and shows out at some time under the secondary directions.
Her first attempt was made by drowning. It did not succeed. She was rescued, and illness followed. In the course of it, by a clever ruse, she obtained a two-ounce bottle of chloral and a one-ounce bottle of laudanum. She took the latter one morning after a bath, but sickness prevented its action. The following week, in the night, she drank the chloral, but to her dismay woke again after a heavy sleep. Neither of these attempts were discovered. Finally, by another scheme, she obtained some cachets of veronal. These she added in a powdered form to some other cachets which she already had in the house. The whole dose, amounting to about sixty grains, she took one evening. Now at last, she thought, there would be no more waking.
Nor was there for three days. The doctors were puzzled to find her in a state of coma which they hardly knew how to diagnose, but, after a long struggle, once again Life triumphed. On awaking to consciousness she refused all explanations; and at this point—not unnaturally—they certified her as insane.
Now the interest of all this is this: Why were all these attempts unsuccessful? Why were these carefully planned attempts foiled on every occasion, when many people have died on much smaller provocation, so to speak ? (A smaller dose of veronal has certainly before now proved fatal.)
Probably the explanation lies partly in the Radix. It is true that Mercury squared by Uranus. There might always be this tendency to regard suicide as justifiable, and, at times, expedient. But Jupiter, strong by sign, and well aspected, held the cusp of the sixth house. I know of no other case where the preserving power of Jupiter showed out so strongly. The native lived, and has regained everything that was then lost, and has also made a great advance in strength and wisdom.
It will, of course, be recognised that when a suicidal tendency is deduced from a horoscope, it will materialise under some dangerous progressed direction. This foreknowledge would often be of great value to a patient’s friends, or indeed to the native in some cases personally. Also the study of a horoscope yields the knowledge of counter-influences for good. These might be so utilised as to save the sufferer from being unhappily branded with the stigma of insanity, or from being—as indeed may tragically happen in an asylum—actually driven insane. In Chapter II the reader’s attention has been drawn to the matter of the cusps of the horoscope; and in relation to these there is one aspect which should never be overlooked—that is the slow movement of a major planet to form an exact “direction” to the cusp of the Ascendant. One or two patients have broken down just when a square or semi-square of Saturn or Uranus to the birth Ascendant had become exact. Such times should be calculated; and, if possible, some preparation made for them. Mind and body could be toned up for resistance, much being often accomplished by a healthy stimulus to the mind. And thus in many cases it would be found that there was no need for extreme measures or panic. A life can easily be spoilt at these junctures by wrong treatment, and the next chapter will deal with a pathetic case where this proved unhappily true.