Behavior: The Berlin Syndrome

Politically, West Berlin is a free-world showcase. Psychologically, it is the undisputed capital of what Germans call Selbstmord—self-murder. Locked deep in East German territory, the city of 2,200,000 reports an average of 20 suicide attempts a day, three successful. Last year 932 West Berliners killed themselves, mostly by hanging, sleeping pills, gas and drowning. The city's suicide rate of 39.5 per 100,000 persons is almost double that of West Germany and probably unmatched anywhere else in the civilized world.

Nonetheless, says Dr. Klaus Thomas, head of a West Berlin psychiatric clinic that has treated more than 12,000 would-be suicides, Berliners, and other...

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