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Famous Suicides James A. Harden-Hickey

About the famous self-proclaimed King of Trinidad James A. Harden-Hickey, history and biography of the suicide proponent and committer.

JAMES A. HARDEN-HICKEY (1854-1898)

Life: Self-proclaimed King of the island of Trinidad, Baron James A. Harden-Hickey startled the world in 1893 when he announced his plans to "found a nation" on this island which he insisted was "an independent state." Of Irish and French descent, enamoured as a child by the glamour of the French court, married to a Standard Oil heiress, Harden-Hickey proposed to set up a kingdom on Trinidad, with himself as its military dictator. (The island, about 60 sq. mi., was 700 mi. off the Brazilian coast in the South Atlantic Ocean; it was not the larger British West Indian island of Trinidad, off the coast of Venezuela.) Believing in the feasibility of his plan, Harden-Hickey bought a schooner, had postage stamps printed, and proudly wore a homemade crown. Great Britain seized Trinidad in 1895 and a year later surrendered it to Brazil. Baron James A. Harden-Hickey became a "King without a country."

Death: Harden-Hickey believed that suicide was "a privilege," a theory which he developed in his book Euthanasia: The Aesthetics of Suicide. He wrote: "We must shake off this fond desire of life and learn that it is of little consequence when we suffer; that it is of greater moment to live well than to live long, and that oftentimes it is living well not to live long." When the battle for possession of Trinidad was lost, Harden-Hickey planned to invade England in order to save his honor. He asked his wealthy father-in-law for money to do so and was turned down. He also tried to raise funds by selling his ranch in Mexico, but that too failed. Feeling depressed and deserted, he decided to kill himself. Although in his book he had suggested 88 poisons and 51 instruments that could be used for self-destruction, many of them exotic, Harden-Hickey committed suicide with a routine drug--he took an overdose of morphine.

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