In February 1775, a Danish woman killed her four-month-old baby. When the authorities found her with the dead child, she said that she would gladly die for her crime.
Why did such a thing happen?
Because at that time, murder was more forgivable than suicide.
Crimes like this were part of a wave of suicide-murders in the 17th and 18th centuries .
This wave had swept across much of Europe, but in Denmark these strange crimes happened with particular frequency.
In the 18th century, there were one and a half suicide murders per 100,000 inhabitants in Copenhagen. In Stockholm, there were 0.6 to 0.8 cases per 100,000 citizens – and in Hamburg, 0.4 to 0.5.
Crazy as it may sound, people committed murders just to be executed. They found out beforehand exactly what crimes were punishable by death to make sure they would be killed.
At that time, suicide was not only a crime, but also meant that the soul was eternally condemned to hell.
Murderers, on the other hand, if they deeply repented of their crime, went straight to heaven And they were truly revered.
Martin Luther had interpreted the forgiveness of sins in this way. If someone repented at the last moment of his life, all would be forgiven and he would die pure and untainted by sin.
Potential suicides were afraid of killing themselves and therefore committed capital crimes punishable by death.
Unlike the suspected suicides, these murderers were completely open about their crime.
One man even sang on his way to the gallows because he was so happy he was about to die.
Eventually, the courts noticed that something was wrong and increased the sentence.
In Denmark, they began sentencing suicide murderers to an additional nine weeks of flogging before execution.
When the day of execution arrived, the executioner would smash as many of the condemned’s bones as possible with a large wheel.
Then the person was hanged from it until he finally died from his injuries.
This is how the military courts did it.
The civil courts were almost exactly brutal.
Suicide murderers were maltreated several times with hot irons as they went to their execution.
Their hands were chopped off first, and finally their heads.
Then they put the body on a wheel and displayed it in front of the crowd.
This did not help to deter the delinquents.
The torment would secure their place in the kingdom of heaven all the more, it was believed.
It was not until 1767 that Denmark was able to put a stop to this bizarre going by simply abolishing the death penalty for suicide murderers.
They now had to work hard and humiliatingly for the rest of their lives and were whipped from time to time.
Other Protestant countries imitated Denmark.
Not all of them, oddly enough.
People tired of life still murder today to gain a death sentence that way.
This happens again and again in the USA.
Murderers voluntarily agree to their execution and even want to speed up the execution.
There are no statistics on this, but researchers assume that at least 20 of the more than 400 executed people since 1976 have murdered in order to commit suicide.
A famous suicide murderer was Gary Gilmore.
He was the first to be executed after the death penalty was reinstated.
He fought with his lawyer to be killed by a firing squad.
“Let’s do it!” were his last words and they are still often quoted today.
English ist not my mother tongue, pardon my mistakes.
Please do not translate my answers, because i do it by myself.