Animal Depression and Animal Suicide

Hi everyone this is Ram again making an interesting article.
It took so many days to make this article.
I have took help from psychiatrist Dr. Girija and some of Veterinary Doctors from my MBBS friends, also from Mohan a animal husbandry worker you can see their details in Contact Us page.

we all thought that only human commits suicide only we have the feeling of intentionally killing yourself but spent 5 min in reading this article, Your thought will be changed because science have made an extensive research.

first let me explain about animal depression later let me explain about animal suicide.

Animal Depression

Depression is defined as feeling of tiredness and lack of interest.

Olivier Berton- Assistant Professor of Neuroscience in the University of Pennsylvania with his colleagues conducted research studies on rodents, primates, fishes etc who lacked interest in their environment.[THIS ARTICLE IS NOT BASED ON HIS RESEARCH BUT IT'S BASED ON MY RESEARCH].

I have just given an example of research done by neurologist
But There are thousands of animal psychologist and scientists have done research regarding this.

Does animals get depressed?

Yes, they do gets depressed just as how we do.

but it's very difficult to diagnose as animals can't communicate with us even if they have depressed feelings.

What signs and symptoms of animal depression??

The classical symptom of animal depression is

Anhedonia- means the loss of interest in food and pleasurable activities by animals
Anhedonia in rodents can be demonstrated by by intracranial self-stimulation and by sucrose preference.
Other signs and symptoms are

Behavioral despair- You can demonstrate this with tests like the forced-swimming test, the tail suspension test etc.

Changes in appetite- Depression in animals is associated with appetite changes you can easily measure it by assessing the quantity of food consumption.

Neuroendocrine disturbances- Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA) disturbances are noticed in major depression in animals. Can be demonstrated by dexamethasone suppression test.
Neuroanatomical changes- Rodents when exposed to chronic stress or with excess of glucocorticoids signs of dendritic atrophy and hippocampal loss of neurons.

Sleep disturbances- Electroencephalography(EEG) studies in rodents shows the disturbances in the circadian rhythm.

Anxiety- Anxiety is also a  symptom of depression with high prevalence. Animals often showed altered anxiety-related behavior.

What animals seem to exhibit signs and symptoms of depression?

Any animal can gets depressed including rodents
but most commonly seen in Monkeys, Dogs, Cattles, Dolphins, whales etc
Sometimes just by looking their facial expressions and their interests on consuming food and pleasurable activities etc we can say that animal is depressed or not.

What are the causes of Animal Depression??

we can't exactly tell the single cause it's again multifactorial but the most common cause are

▪ Animals suffering from painful sickness.

▪ Death of partner of the animal or death their children or their siblings or their parents.

▪ If animals are in very close emotional relation with human beings and if any bad happened (like death) to them or if they beat the animals or refused to serve food etc results in animal depression.

How animals would deal with their depression?

In most of the cases animals them self manage their depression because there consciousness is not much developed as human beings.
Only in very rare cases Animals commits suicide.

What are the treatments for Animal depression?

As I said before it's very difficult to diagnose animal depression and also most of the cases human neglect their depression.

But human Antidepressants medications works on monkeys and even on dogs.

Animal Suicide

According to Psychology
Suicide means “intentional ending of one’s own life associated with Depression”.
And also to conclude that it is suicide “One must be aware that those actions will leads to end of life”.
just remember above two sentences

Most of the people's agree with both Animal depression and Animal suicide.

But some of people only agree with Animal depression but they don't agree with Animal suicide.

Here i will give you proof of some of documented cases of animal suicide in the world.

1. Depressed Swan committing Suicide

A Chinese woman by name Hiker Yan Yan Hsiao captured a young swan committing suicide after the death of its mother.
see the image below

This is the moment in which a young swan drowned itself in water after the death of its mother.

She said that “I  had been taking photographs (at the park lake in Sanmenxia, in Central China’s Henan province) of the swan without even realising that I am capturing its suicide”.

She said that “I saw the swan which was young and along the side of an older bird that was already dead”.
She also said that “Duck after flapping its wings, it then stuck its head in the water. but I thought it had calmed down, Later then I realised that it was keeping its head in the water to commit suicide”.

Later on examination of spot it was proved that “Duck doesn't had any disease, it was not old also water was free from chemicals”.
This shows that reason for suicide would be the death of its mother.

There are also numerous cases in the world that ducks drowning themselves after the death of partner.

2. Depressed Dolphin committed suicide.

In 1960’s The Dolphin trainer by name Richard O'Barry watched a dolphin by name Kathy who killed herself.

Here is a statement by him "Kathy was really depressed... She swam into my arms and looked me right into my eyes, then she took a deep breath and didn't take another one. I let her go and she sank straight down on her belly to the bottom of the tank”.

You have to know that like how we have voluntary breath in the same way dolphins and whales also have voluntary breath. Every breath they take is a by their conscious effort. They can end their life whenever by stop breathing just like us.
Finally this incidence made Richard O'Barry to transform into animal rights activist for the rest of his life and also he made a role in "The Cove," which was an Oscar-winning documentary.

Again there are thousands of documented cases of whales committing suicide by purposely coming out of water.

3. Newfoundland Dog that Attempted Suicide repeatedly and finally Succeeded.

In 1855, London News reported  "Singular Case of Suicide" involving a Newfoundland dog. The dog had been acting usual from few days and later the dog throw himself and try to to sink in the water by preserving perfect stillness of the legs and feet."

But the dog was rescued and tied up. Whenever the dog was released he again jumps into water and tried to sink himself. This occurred several times but finally at last the Newfoundland dog succeeded in committing suicide.

4. A Bear that Starved to commit suicide in order to Escape from its Captivity

In 2012, in china a bear refused to eat food for ten days finally starved herself to death.

According to detailed investigations it was proved that About 12,000 bears were kept in captivity in China and Vietnam in order to obtain their bile (digestive juice stored in gall bladder) which was used in traditional chinese medicine.

A permanent incision was made in abdomen and gall bladder  and by inserting a catheter tube through incision, the bile was removed from the bear also many times, a permanently implanted metal tube is used so all these was very painful procedure which was carried out twice a day. So the bear couldn’t tolerate the pain and finally committed suicide by starving.

Animal rights campaigners of china claimed that they have witnessed many other bears committing suicide by starving in the last couple of years.

5Whales that Beached Themselves to commit suicide

In New Zealand in November 2011, 61 whales beached themselves to commit suicide. The reason of suicide was not clear, but later on studies it was showed that sick whales heads to shore to die and the others follow. But in that 18 whales survived.

6. Sheeps that Jumped from a Cliff.

In Turkey in 2005, it was reported that nearly 450 sheep jumped from a cliff. Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd of 1500 sheeps to graze while they had breakfast they  watched that 450 sheep jumped from cliff and died. But those that jumped later survived because as the pile got higher it created cushion effect.

7.Cows and Bulls that jumped from Cliff and committed suicide.

In Alps in August 2009, 28 cows and bulls jumped themselves from cliff in three successive days.

According to local investigation it has proved that there had been violent thunderstorms in that area which spooked the animals.

later helicopters were used to remove the bodies in order to prevent the pollution of the local groundwater.

8. Insects that Sacrifice Themselves to Protect Others from danger.

It has been proved that Acyrthosiphon pisum commonly known as pea aphid a sap-sucking insect explode itself in order to protect its relatives from predators like ladybug, thereby sacrificing its life in order to protect their relatives. And I want you tell that It was the first convincing proof in the world which supports the host suicide hypothesis.
here i just gave you few examples
I can give you thousands of examples of documented animal suicides.

So if you carefully observed the above examples it is concluded that animals intentionally ending their life by starving, by drowning, by suffocation, also by jumping from height etc which are just like one of the methods that human follow.

And if you ask me whether they are aware of that their actions leads to end their life??
Of course Sure they are aware of it, they will be aware of actions which will leads to end their life
eg:- If you have a cat in your home then take it to top of building, carefully hold cat in your hand and from top of building make the cat to see ground and now observe its reaction

Be careful and Please don't make the cat to fall from height.

Now I will give you live examples in my life

In my grandmother's village a old lady who had severe attachment with a cow died because of illness. After her death Cow was depressed and started starving and finally died six days after death of old lady.

Mohan husbandry worker experience

In bellur cross (karnataka) In March 2016 a whole family committed suicide. A pet (Dog) which had a close relation with that family finally died by starving and poisoned himself by eating a road side poisonous plants.

Religious views on Animal Suicide

Until now i talked according to Medical Science
but if i want to talk spiritually

Soul is defined as  eternal, non-material spiritual entity present within living being.
The symptom of the presence of the soul within a body is consciousness.
Unconscious person have soul but non-conscious person doesn’t have soul (Nonconscious means irreversible loss of consciousness example as in case of brain death).

This is what some of traditional scientists gave definition regarding soul

Now My question is Animals also have consciousness, they too feel pain, they too have emotional disturbances just like us and rarely they too commits suicide.
Their brain development is not as like human brains, but they too have soul if I say spiritually.

I can’t Understand why religions like Islam and christianity doesn’t agrees with presence of soul in animals??? (Reason which they gave to me was animals don't have feelings, they don't have emotions and they won't commits suicide hence they don't have soul).

But religions like Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism etc) have told presence of soul in animals lakhs of years before scientists done research on animal depression and animal suicide.


Thank you for reading

Article by

1. Ram (admin)
Contact me on email
for more details visit Contact Us page

2. Dr. Girija Psychiatrist
Contact me on email
for more details visit Contact Us page

3. My MBBS Friends
and some Veterinary medical Students.

tell your opinion in the comment box below
contact admin ram on email

Give Feedback on

If you have any articles then send us on
Next Post »