Posted by: Donna Cunningham | June 22, 2014

Astrological Research into Suicide—Proof that We Can’t Predict It from the Chart

©by Donna Cunningham, MSW on 6-22-2014

 Note: the following is a brief excerpt from a chapter on counseling clients in crisis in my ebook for professional astrologers,  Counseling Principles for Astrologers: Becoming an Effective Change Agent. Order here:

 Occasionally, astrology clients will express suicidal thoughts­ during the session. Sometimes they do it indirectly by saying­ something like, “I just don’t know how much longer I can go on.”

 You first need to assess the seriousness of the client’s ­desire to die. Can you tell from the chart? I think not.

The ­National Council for Geocosmic Research, one of the major­ astrological organizations, conducted a ­painstaking and well-designed research project on suicide. They­ did it over a span of six years, from 1974-80, coordinated by ­Nona Gwynn Press.

The researchers acquired death certificates of suicides from the New York City Bureau of Vital Statistics. Out ­of that group, they were able to secure 310 timed birth ­certificates. The date, time, and method of the suicide were also ­known. They paired each chart with the chart of a non-suicide, randomly­ selected.

Then 29 practicing astrologers, including some of the finest ­in the United States, were given ten such pairs. Using their choice of astrological techniques, they attempted ­to determine which member of the pair was the suicide. 

We had a ­fifty-fifty chance of answering correctly, and yet only one of ­the 29 was able to score significantly above chance. That was the late ­Charles Emerson, using the Uranian system. I was one of the ­flunkees! Later, Rory Mercato also devised a rather elaborate formula that he used with fairly good results.

(For a more detailed report about NCGR’s carefully designed study, read Chapter Six of Nona Gwynn Press’ book, New Insights into ­Astrology. It was published by AstroCommunications Services, San Diego, 1993. Rory Mercato’s results were published in the ­October, 1990 issue of URANIA.)

This outcome might be regarded as a blow to our credibility. ­Nonetheless, it’s reassuring that we don’t know who will or ­won’t kill themselves–that the chart does not show some kind of immutable fate. The study did not vindicate the traditional astrological indicators of suicide. Pluto and the eighth house ­can represent death and self-destruction, but also transformation ­and a great healing.

If you can’t rely on the chart to tell you, what do you do? ­Ask your client! The following are a series of questions helping professionals use to ­determine how serious the intention by finding out whether the ­person has formulated a definite plan.

  • Has the person decided on­ a method?
  • Are the means to secure that method easily at hand?
  • Does he or she have a definite date or time frame in mind?
  • Have ­there been previous suicide attempts?
  • Is there a history of ­family members or loved ones committing suicide?
  • The more yeses you get to these questions and the more definite and detailed the­ responses, the more cause there is for concern.

 Look for support in terms of social­ agency resources, including suicide prevention hotlines and other resources in your area. Support is essential because the astrologer, working alone,­ does not have the resources—or the legal standing—to handle suicidal people. Even the ­therapist in private practice will make sure to have psychiatric ­backup and to give the client the suicide prevention hot line numbers.

 This is the end of this series, but  here are links to related posts on Skywriter:

Resources from the Internet:


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