A pod of 61 whales recently beached themselves in New Zealand.
Every time something like this happens, the question arises… do animals commit suicide?
We know that animals can display self-destructive behavior, but do they have the higher cognitive abilities, the self-awareness to decide to end their lives and have some sort of an understanding of the repercussions?
Dolphins, some apes, magpies and elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror, which would suggest self-awareness.
There are stories of a depressed Newfoundland dog who repeatedly let into water, kept his limbs still, and would hold his head under water for minutes at a time.
Other dogs have drowned or starved themselves after their owners died. A duck even drowned itself after the death of its mate.
But are these considered suicide? Similar to how a human can contemplate and understand one's own mortality?
Many creatures, like bees and naked mole rats, will leave their colony and go off to die alone whenever they get a disease they could pass along to the colony.
All we know is, there's always an alternative to suicide.
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[Image via AP Images.]