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For assistance in preventing suicide, see Suicide prevention#External links.
Classification and external resources

The English romantic poet Thomas Chatterton is believed to have killed himself with arsenic in 1770.
ICD-10 X60.X84.
ICD-9 E950
MedlinePlus 001554
eMedicine article/288598
MeSH F01.145.126.980.875

Suicide (Latin suicidium, from sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the intentional killing of oneself. The most common cause is an underlying mental disorder which include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism and drug abuse.[1] Financial difficulties or other undesirable situations play a significant role.[2]

Over one million people commit suicide every year, making it the tenth-leading cause of death worldwide. It is a leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 35.[3][4] There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year worldwide.[5]

Views on suicide have been influenced by broader cultural views on existential themes such as religion, honor, and the meaning of life. The Abrahamic religions consider suicide an offense towards God due to religious belief in the sanctity of life. In the West it was often regarded as a serious crime. Conversely, during the samurai era in Japan, seppuku was respected as a means of atonement for failure or as a form of protest. In the 20th century, suicide in the form of self-immolation has been used as a form of protest, and in the form of kamikaze and suicide bombing as a military or terrorist tactic. Sati is a Hindu funeral practice in which the widow would immolate herself on her husband's funeral pyre, either willingly, or under pressure from the family and in-laws.[6]

Medically assisted suicide (euthanasia, or the right to die) is currently a controversial ethical issue involving people who are terminally ill, in extreme pain, or have (perceived or construed) minimal quality of life through injury or illness. Self-sacrifice for others is not usually considered suicide, as the goal is not to kill oneself but to save another.




Self-harm is not a suicide attempt; however, initially self-harm was erroneously classified as a suicide attempt. There is a non-causal correlation between self-harm and suicide; both are most commonly a joint effect of depression[7].

Euthanasia and assisted suicide

Individuals who wish to end their own life may enlist the assistance of another person to achieve death. The other person, usually a family member or physician, may help carry out the act if the individual lacks the physical capacity to do so even with the supplied means. Assisted suicide is a contentious moral and political issue in many countries, as seen in the scandal surrounding Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a medical practitioner who supported euthanasia, was found to have helped patients end their own lives, and was sentenced to prison time.


A murder-suicide is an act in which an individual kills one or more other persons immediately before or at the same time as him or herself.

The motivation for the murder in murder-suicide can be purely criminal in nature or be perceived by the perpetrator as an act of care for loved ones in the context of severe depression.

Suicide attack

A suicide attack is when an attacker perpetrates an act of violence against others, typically to achieve a military or political goal, that results in his or her own death as well. Suicide bombings are often regarded as an act of terrorism. Historical examples include the assassination of Czar Alexander II and the in part successful kamikaze attacks by Japanese air pilots during the Second World War.

Mass suicide

Some suicides are done under peer pressure or as a group. Mass suicides can take place with as few as two people, in a "suicide pact", or with a larger number of people. An example is the mass suicide that took place by members of the Peoples Temple, an American cult led by Jim Jones in Guyana in 1978.

Suicide pact

A suicide pact describes the suicides of two or more individuals in an agreed-upon plan. The plan may be to die together, or separately and closely timed. Suicide pacts are generally distinct from mass suicide. The latter refers to incidents in which a larger number of people kill themselves together for the same ideological reason, often within a religious, political, military or paramilitary context. Suicide pacts, on the other hand, usually involve small groups of people (such as married or romantic partners, family members, or friends) whose motivations are intensely personal and individual.

Metaphorical suicide

The metaphorical sense of "willful destruction of one's self-interest"[8], for example political suicide.


A number of factors are associated with the risk of suicide including: mental illness, drug addiction, and socio-economic factors. While external circumstances, such as a traumatic event, may trigger suicide it does not seem to be an independent cause. Thus suicides are more likely to occur during periods of socioeconomic, family and individual crisis.

Mental illness

Mental disorders are frequently present at the time of suicide with estimates from 87%[9] to 98%.[10] When broken down into type mood disorders are present in 30%, substance abuse in 18%, schizophrenia in 14%, and personality disorders in 13.0% of suicides.[10] About 5% of people with schizophrenia die of suicide.[11]

Substance abuse

Substance abuse is the second most common cause of suicide after mood disorders.[12] Both chronic substance misuse as well as acute substance abuse is associated with an increased risk of suicide. This is attributed to the intoxicating and disinhibiting effects of many psychoactive substances; when combined with personal grief such as bereavement the risk of suicide is greatly increased.[13] More than 50% of suicides are related to alcohol or drug use. Up to 25% of drug addicts and alcoholics commit suicide. In adolescents the figure is higher with alcohol or drug misuse playing a role in up to 70% of suicides. It has been recommended that all drug addicts or alcoholics are investigated for suicidal thoughts due to the high risk of suicide.[14]

Misuse of drugs such as cocaine have a high correlation with suicide. Suicide is most likely to occur during the "crash" or withdrawal phase of cocaine in chronic abusers. Polysubstance misuse has been found to more often result in suicide in younger adults whereas suicide from alcoholism is more common in older adults. In San Diego it was found that 30 percent of suicides in people under the age of 30 had used cocaine. In New York City during a crack epidemic one in five people who committed suicide were found to have recently consumed cocaine. The "come down" or withdrawal phase from cocaine can result in intense depressive symptoms coupled with other distressing mental effects which serve to increase the risk of suicide. It has been found that drinking 6 drinks or more per day results in a sixfold increased risk of suicide.[15][16] Alcohol misuse is associated with a number of mental health disorders and alcoholics have a very high suicide rate.[17] High rates of major depressive disorder occur in heavy drinkers and those who abuse alcohol. Controversy has previously surrounded whether those who abused alcohol who developed major depressive disorder were self medicating (which may be true in some cases) but recent research has now concluded that chronic excessive alcohol intake itself directly causes the development of major depressive disorder in a significant number of alcohol abusers.[18]

Chronic prescribed benzodiazepine use or chronic misuse is associated with depression as well as suicide. Care should be taken when prescribing especially to at risk patients.[19][20][21] Depressed adolescents who were taking benzodiazepines were found to have a greatly increased risk of self harm or suicide, although the sample size was small. The effects of benzodiazepines in individuals under the age of 18 requires further research. Additional caution is required in using benzodiazepines in depressed adolescents.[22] Benzodiazepine dependence often results in an increasingly deteriorating clinical picture which includes social deterioration leading to comorbid alcoholism and drug abuse. Suicide is a common outcome of chronic benzodiazepine dependence. Benzodiazepine misuse or misuse of other CNS depressants increases the risk of suicide in drug misusers.[23][24] 11% of males and 23% of females with a sedative hypnotic misuse habit commit suicide.[25]


Genetics has an effect on suicide risk[26] accounting for 30–50% of the variance.[27] Much of this relationship acts through the heritability of mental illness.[27]


As a form of defiance or protest

In Ireland protesting via hunger strike to the death has been used as a tactic in recent times for political causes. During The Troubles in Northern Ireland a hunger strike was launched by the provisional IRA to demand that their prisoners be reclassified as prisoners of war rather than as terrorists, during the infamous 1981 hunger strikes, led by Bobby Sands; this protest resulted in 10 deaths. The cause of death was recorded as "starvation, self-imposed" rather than suicide by the coroner, modified to simply "starvation" on the death certificates after protests from the striker's families.[28]

Judicial suicide

A person who has committed a crime may commit suicide to avoid prosecution and disgrace:

Military suicide
A kamikaze attack on the escort carrier USS White Plains

In the final days of World War II, some Japanese pilots volunteered for kamikaze missions in an attempt to forestall defeat for the Empire. Near the end of WW2 the Japanese designed a small aircraft whose only purpose was kamikaze missions. Similarly, units of the Luftwaffe flew Selbstopfereinsatz (self-sacrifice missions) against Soviet bridges. In Nazi Germany, many soldiers and government officials (including Adolf Hitler) killed themselves rather than surrender to Allied forces. The Japanese also built one-man "human torpedo" suicide submarines called Kaitens.

Dutiful suicide

Dutiful suicide is an act, or non-fatal attempt at the act, of fatal self-violence at one's own hands done in the belief that it will secure a greater good, rather than to escape harsh or impossible conditions. It can be voluntary, to relieve some dishonor or punishment, or imposed by threats of death or reprisals on one's family or reputation (a kind of murder by remote control). It can be culturally traditional or generally abhorred; it can be heavily ritualized as in seppuku or purely functional. Dutiful suicide can be distinguished from a kamikaze or suicide bomb attack, in which a fighter consumes his own life in delivering a weapon to the enemy.

Disgraced Roman aristocrats were sometimes allowed to commit suicide to spare themselves a trial and penalties against their families. An example of this was Emperor Nero who reportedly committed forced suicide following a large fire that burned through much of Rome.[30] A more modern case is Erwin Rommel, who was found to have foreknowledge of the July 20 Plot on Hitler's life. Rommel was threatened with public trial, execution and reprisals on his family unless he killed himself, which he did.[31]

Suicide as an escape

In situation where continuing to live is intolerable, some people use suicide as a means of escape. Some inmates in Nazi concentration camps are known to have killed themselves by delibertely touching the electrified fences.

According to a report by Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, 150,000 debt-ridden farmers in India have committed suicide in the past decade.[32]

Other factors

Socio-economic factors such as unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and discrimination may trigger suicidal thoughts.[33] Poverty may not be a direct cause but it can increase the risk of suicide, as it is a major risk group for depression.[34]

Suicide methods

Percent of suicides that are by firearm in the United States, by gender and age, 1999–2005. Data from the CDC.

The leading method of suicide varies dramatically between countries. The leading methods in different regions include hanging, pesticide poisoning, and firearms.[35] Worldwide 30% of suicides are from pesticides. The use of this method however varies markedly from 4% in Europe to more than 50% in the Pacific region.[36] In the United States 52% of suicides involve the use of firearms.[37] Asphyxiation and poisoning are fairly common as well. Together they comprised about 40% of U.S. suicides. Other methods of suicide include blunt force trauma (jumping from a building or bridge, self-defenestrating, stepping in front of a train, or car collision, for example). Exsanguination or bloodletting (slitting one's wrist or throat), intentional drowning, self-immolation, electrocution, and intentional starvation are other suicide methods. Individuals may also intentionally provoke another person into administering lethal action against them, as in suicide by cop.

Whether or not exposure to suicide is a risk factor for suicide is controversial.[38] A 1996 study was unable to find a relationship between suicides among friends.[39] While a 1986 study found increased rates of suicide following the televisation of news stories regarding suicide.[40]


Disability-adjusted life year for self inflicted injuries per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004.[41]
     no data      less than 80      80-160      160-240      240-320      320-400      400-480      480-560      560-640      640-720      720-800      800-850      more than 850

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death worldwide[1] with about a million people dying by suicide annually.[42] According to 2005 data, suicides in the U.S. outnumber homicides by nearly 2 to 1 and ranks as the 11th leading cause of death in the country, ahead of liver disease and Parkinson's.[43] Worldwide suicide rates have increased by 60% in the past 50 years, mainly in the developing countries. Most suicides in the world occur in Asia, which is estimated to account for up to 60% of all suicides. According to the World Health Organization, China, India and Japan may account for 40% of all world suicides.[44] In the United States, for example, the rate of suicide is increasing for the first time in a decade. The increase in the overall suicide rate between 1999 and 2005 has been due primarily to an increase in suicides among whites aged 40–64, with white middle-aged women experiencing the largest annual increase.[45]


Suicide rate per 100,000 males (data from 1978–2008)
     no data      < 1      1–5      5–5.8      5.8–8.5      8.5–12      12–19      19–22.5      22.5–26      26–29.5      29.5–33      33–36.5      >36.5
Suicide rate per 100,000 females (data from 1978–2008)
     no data      < 1      1–5      5–5.8      5.8–8.5      8.5–12      12–19      19–22.5      22.5–26      26–29.5      29.5–33      33–36.5      >36.5

In the Western world, males die much more often by means of suicide than do females, although females attempt suicide more often. Some medical professionals believe this stems from the fact that males are more likely to end their lives through effective violent means, while women primarily use less severe methods such as overdosing on medications.

Alcohol and drug use

In the United States 16.5% of suicides are related to alcohol.[46] Alcoholics are 5 to 20 times more likely to kill themselves while the misuse of other drugs increases the risk 10 to 20 times. About 15% of alcoholics commit suicide, and about 33% of suicides in the under 35's have a primary diagnosis of alcohol or other substance misuse; over 50% of all suicides are related to alcohol or drug dependence. In adolescents alcohol or drug misuse plays a role in up to 70% of suicides.[14][47]


National suicide rates differ significantly between countries and amongst ethnic groups within countries.[48] For example, in the USA, non-Hispanic Caucasians are nearly 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves than are African Americans or Hispanics.[49] In the United Kingdom suicide rates vary significantly between different parts of the country. In Scotland, for example the suicide rate is approximately double that of England.[50]

Social aspects


The predominant view of modern medicine is that suicide is a mental health concern, associated with psychological factors such as the difficulty of coping with depression, inescapable suffering or fear, or other mental disorders and pressures. A suicide attempt is sometimes interpreted as a "cry for help" and attention, or to express despair and the wish to escape, rather than a genuine intent to die.[51] Most people who attempt suicide do not complete suicide on a first attempt; those who later gain a history of repetitions have a significantly higher probability of eventual completion of suicide.[52]

In the United States, individuals who express the intent to harm themselves may be automatically determined to lack the present mental capacity to refuse treatment, and can be transported to the emergency department against their will. An emergency physician will determine whether inpatient care at a mental health care facility is warranted. This is sometimes referred to as being "committed". A court hearing may be held to determine the individual's competence. In most states, a psychiatrist may hold the person for a specific time period without a judicial order. If the psychiatrist determines the person to be a threat to himself or others, the person may be admitted involuntarily to a psychiatric treatment facility. This period is usually of three days duration. After this time the person must be discharged or appear in front of a judge. As in any judicial proceeding this person has a right to legal counsel.[53]

Switzerland has recently taken steps to legalize assisted suicide for the chronically mentally ill. The high court in Lausanne, in a 2006 ruling, granted an anonymous individual with longstanding psychiatric difficulties the right to end his own life. At least one leading American bioethicist, Jacob Appel of Brown University, has argued that the American medical community ought to condone suicide in certain individuals with mental illness.[54]


A tantō knife prepared for seppuku

In some jurisdictions, an act or incomplete act of suicide is considered to be a crime. More commonly, a surviving party member who assisted in the suicide attempt will face criminal charges.

In Brazil, if the help is directed to a minor, the penalty is applied in its double and not considered as homicide. In Italy and Canada, instigating another to suicide is also a criminal offense. In Singapore, assisting in the suicide of a mentally handicapped person is a capital offense. In India, abetting suicide of a minor or a mentally challenged person can result in a maximum 1 year prison term with a possible fine.[55]

In Germany, the following laws apply to cases of suicide:[56]

  • Active euthanasia (killing on request) is prohibited by article 216 of the StGB (Strafgesetzbuch, German Criminal Code), punishable with six months to five years in jail
  • German law interprets suicide as an accident and anyone present during suicide may be prosecuted for failure to render aid in an emergency. A suicide legally becomes emergency when a suicidal person loses consciousness. Failure to render aid is punishable under article 323c of the StGB, with a maximum one year jail sentence.

Religious views

In most forms of Christianity, suicide is considered a sin, based mainly on the writings of influential Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages, such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas; suicide was not considered a sin under the Byzantine Christian code of Justinian, for instance.[57][58] In Catholic doctrine, the argument is based on the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" (made applicable under the New Covenant by Jesus in Matthew 19:18), as well as the idea that life is a gift given by God which should not be spurned, and that suicide is against the "natural order" and thus interferes with God's master plan for the world.[59][60] However, it is believed that mental illness or grave fear of suffering diminishes the responsibility of the one completing suicide.[61] Counter-arguments include the following: that the sixth commandment is more accurately translated as "thou shalt not murder", not necessarily applying to the self; that taking one's own life no more violates God's law than does curing a disease; and that a number of suicides by followers of God are recorded in the Bible with no dire condemnation.[62]

Judaism focuses on the importance of valuing this life, and as such, suicide is tantamount to denying God's goodness in the world. Despite this, under extreme circumstances when there has seemed no choice but to either be killed or forced to betray their religion, Jews have committed individual suicide or mass suicide (see Masada, First French persecution of the Jews, and York Castle for examples) and as a grim reminder there is even a prayer in the Jewish liturgy for "when the knife is at the throat", for those dying "to sanctify God's Name". (See: Martyrdom). These acts have received mixed responses by Jewish authorities, regarded both as examples of heroic martyrdom, whilst others state that it was wrong for them to take their own lives in anticipation of martyrdom.[63]

Suicide is not allowed in the religion of Islam[64]; however, martyring oneself for Allah (during combat) is not the same as completing suicide. Suicide in Islam is seen as a sign of disbelief in God.[65] The use of suicide is practised by Radical groups such as Hamas and Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

In Hinduism, suicide is frowned upon and is considered equally sinful as murdering another. Hindu Scriptures state that one who commits suicide will become part of the spirit world, wandering earth until the time one would have otherwise died, had one not committed suicide.[66]


The Way Out, or Suicidal Ideation: George Grie, 2007.

Some see suicide as a legitimate matter of personal choice and a human right (colloquially known as the right to die movement), and maintain that no one should be forced to suffer against their will, particularly from conditions such as incurable disease, mental illness, and old age that have no possibility of improvement. Proponents of this view reject the belief that suicide is always irrational, arguing instead that it can be a valid last resort for those enduring major pain or trauma. This perspective is most popular in continental Europe, where euthanasia and other such topics are commonly discussed in parliament and has a good deal of support.[67]

A narrower segment of this group considers suicide something between a grave but condonable choice in some circumstances and a sacrosanct right for anyone (even a young and healthy person) who believes they have rationally and conscientiously come to the decision to end their own lives. Notable supporters of this school of thought include German pessimist philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer,[68], Friedrich Nietzsche, and Scottish empiricist David Hume.[69] Adherents of this view often advocate the abrogation of statutes that restrict the liberties of people known to be suicidal, such as laws permitting their involuntary commitment to mental hospitals.


Some landmarks have become known for high levels of suicide attempts. The four most popular locations in the world are reportedly San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Toronto's Bloor Street Viaduct (before the construction of the Luminous Veil),[70] Japan's Aokigahara Forest and England's Beachy Head.[71] In 2005 the Golden Gate Bridge had a count exceeding 1,200 jumpers since its construction in 1937,[72] in 1997 the Bloor Street Viaduct had one suicide every 22 days,[73] and in 2002 Aokigahara had a record of 78 bodies found within the forest, replacing the previous record of 73 in 1998.[74] The suicide rate of these places is so high that numerous signs, urging potential victims of suicide to seek help, have been posted.[75]

See also


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  46. ^ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (July 2006). "Homicides and suicides--National Violent Death Reporting System, United States, 2003-2004". MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 55 (26): 721–4. PMID 16826158. 
  47. ^ Louis Appleby (Foreword), David Duffy (Editor), Tony Ryan (Editor) (25 August 2004). New Approaches to Preventing Suicide. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-1843102212. 
  48. ^ La Vecchia C, Lucchini F, Levi F (July 1994). "Worldwide trends in suicide mortality, 1955-1989". Acta Psychiatr Scand 90 (1): 53–64. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.1994.tb01556.x. ISSN 0001-690X. PMID 7976451. ; Lester, Patterns, 1996, pp. 28-30.
  49. ^ Hoyert DL, Heron MP, Murphy SL, Kung HC (April 2006). "Deaths: final data for 2003" (PDF 3.72 MB). Natl Vital Stat Rep 54 (13): 1–120. ISSN 1551-8922. PMID 16689256. 
  50. ^ men: 24.9, women: 8.2, combined: 16.0 Scottish Public Health Observatory (see link to excel spreadsheet) [1]
  51. ^ "WHO Europe - Suicide Prevention" (PDF). World Health Organization. 2005-01-15. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  52. ^ Shaffer D (September 1988). "The epidemiology of teen suicide: an examination of risk factors". J Clin Psychiatry 49 (Suppl): 36–41. ISSN 0160-6689. PMID 3047106. 
  53. ^ Giannini, Matthew C.; Slaby, Andrew Edmund (1982). Handbook of overdose and detoxification emergencies. [New Hyde Park, N.Y.]: Medical Examination Pub. Co. ISBN 0-87488-182-X. 
  54. ^ Appel, JM. (May 2007). "A Suicide Right for the Mentally Ill? A Swiss Case Opens a New Debate". Hastings Center Report 37 (3): 21–23. doi:10.1353/hcr.2007.0035. ISSN 0093-0334. PMID 17649899. 
  55. ^ "Laws - IPC - Section 309". 2006-10-10. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  56. ^ "German politician Roger Kusch helped elderly woman to die" Times Online July 2, 2008
  57. ^ Dr. Ronald Roth, D.Acu.. "Suicide & Euthanasia - a Biblical Perspective". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  58. ^ "Norman N. Holland, Literary Suicides: A Question of Style". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  59. ^ "Catechism of the Catholic Church - PART 3 SECTION 2 CHAPTER 2 ARTICLE 5". 1941-06-01. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  60. ^ "The Sin of Suicide, Aquinas". 1996-08-28. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  61. ^ "Catechism of the Catholic Church - PART 3 SECTION 2 CHAPTER 2 ARTICLE 5". 1941-06-01. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  62. ^ "The Bible and Suicide". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  63. ^ "Euthanasia and Judaism: Jewish Views of Euthanasia and Suicide". Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  64. ^ Suicide as seen in Islam
  65. ^ Suicide Bombing in Islam -(Submission)- Going to Heaven or to Hell ?Jihad in Islam (Submission)- War system in Islam
  66. ^ Hindu Website. Hinduism and suicide
  67. ^ By SIMON ROBINSON (Sunday, Mar. 27, 2005). "Europe's Way of Death". TIME.,9171,901050404-1042414,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  68. ^ Schopenhauer | On Suicide
  69. ^ "Suicide (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  70. ^ "Where Spirits Live". NOW. 2003-05-14. 
  71. ^ Amazeen, Sandy. "Book Review: Cliffs of Despair A Journey to Suicide's Edge," Monsters & Critics.December 21, 2005
  72. ^ "Jumpers: The fatal grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge". The New Yorker. 2003. Retrieved October 24, 2006. 
  73. ^ . Schizophrenia Society of Ontario. 1997. 
  74. ^ "'Suicide forest' yields 78 corpses". Japan Times. 2003-02-07. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  75. ^ "Beachy Head - Suicide Spot". BBC Inside Out. 2003-06-23. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 

Further reading

  • Berrios G E & Mohanna M (1990) Durkheim and French Psychiatric Views on Suicide during the 19th century: a conceptual history. British Journal of Psychiatry 156: 1-9
  • Gambotto, Antonella (2004). The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide. Australia: Broken Ankle Books. pp. 197pgs. ISBN 0-975-1075-1-8. 
  • Jamison, Kay Redfield (2000). Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide. New York: Vintage. pp. 448pgs. ISBN 0375401458. 
  • Simpson, George Gaylord; Durkheim, Emile (1997). Suicide: a study in sociology. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-684-83632-7. 
  • McDowell, Eugene E.; Stillion, Judith M. (1996). Suicide across the life span: premature exits. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 1-56032-304-3. 
  • Stone, Geo (2001). Suicide and attempted suicide. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-0940-5. 
  • Hakim, David (2008). Man Down CineSource Magazine. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Suicide is the act of killing oneself.



  • Many advocates for a "right to die" would also like to see such opportunities expanded to include fully-competent patients with locked-in syndromes, quadriplegias, and other forms of extreme disability, specifically in cases where these victims express an ongoing and rational desire to die, but are physically incapable of ending their own lives. To deny such patients assistance is, to my own thinking, a form of torture by inaction.
  • 死神の附いた耳へは、意見も道理も入るまいとは思へど、さりとは愚痴の至り
  • Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank – but that's not the same thing.
    • Joseph Conrad
  • Death is my final civil liberty, and I do not choose to surrender it to the state, a church or a physician.
    • Frederick Ellis
  • The Wood of Suicides has changed since my last visit to Hell. I remember it as a tiny grove. Now it resembles a forest.
  • What a silly thing to do, he thought. What a goddam silly thing to do. You wont even be there to watch their faces.
  • Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
    I have been half in love with easeful Death,
    Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
    To take into the air my quiet breath;
    Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
    To cease upon the midnight with no pain …

    • John Keats (1795–1821), "Ode to a Nightingale"
  • There are a great many ways to commit suicide, you know.
    • Stephen King, The Stand (Uncut), chapter 55, p. 799, unidentified edition
  • There is only one prospect worse than being chained to an intolerable existence: the nightmare of a botched attempt to end it.
    • Arthur Koestler
  • Let us ask this of him: what is there that is so bitter, if sleep and peace be the end of life, to make one fade away in never-ending grief?
    • Lucretius
  • Suicide kills two people. That's what it's for.
    • Referring to the guilt and grief close surviving dependents feel after a suicide
    • Arthur Miller, After the Fall
  • We cannot tear out a single page from our life, but we can throw the whole book into the fire.
  • Suicide is a private thing.
  • Razors pain you;
    Rivers are damp;
    Acids stain you;
    And drugs cause cramp;
    Guns aren't lawful;
    Nooses give;
    Gas smells awful;
    You might as well live.

    • Dorothy Parker, "Resume", 1926
  • Dying
    is an art, like everything else.
    I do it exceptionally well.

    • Sylvia Plath, "Lady Lazarus"
  • Death is before me today
    Like the recovery of a sick man …
    Like the longing of a man to see his home again
    After many years of captivity …

  • Some people want to eke out every second of life – no matter how grim – and that is their right. But others do not. And that should be their right.
    • Betty Rollin
  • Life must go on.
    I forget just why.

    • Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • He who does not accept and respect those who want to reject life does not truly accept and respect life itself.
    • Thomas Szasz
  • It's not a thing to do while one is not in one's best mind. Never kill yourself while you are suicidal.
    • Edwin Shneidman
  • When Goblins Kill themselves it's called stupidity. When Humans do it, it's called heroism.
    • Shock Troopers, Magic: The Gathering
  • Suicide? To tell you the truth, I disapprove of suicide more than anything.
  • Suicide is self-expression.
  • The man, who in a fit of melancholy, kills himself today, would have wished to live had he waited a week.
    • Voltaire, "Cato", Philisophical Dictionary, 1764
  • It's better to burn out than to fade away.
    • Neil Young, My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue) on the album Rust Never Sleeps (1979). Quoted by Kurt Cobain in his suicide note.


  • Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
    • Unknown

See also

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up suicide in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SUICIDE (from Lat. sui, of oneself, and cidium, from caedere, to kill), the act of intentionally destroying one's own life. The phenomenon of suicide has at all times attracted a large amount of attention from moralists and social investigators. Its existence is looked upon, in Western civilization, as a sign of the presence of maladies in the body politic which, whether remediable or not, deserve careful examination. It is, of course, impossible to compare Western civilization in this respect with, say, Japan, where suicide in certain circumstances is part of a distinct moral creed. In Christian ethics and Christian law it is wrong, indeed illegal, as a felo de se, self-murder. It is within comparatively recent years that the study of suicide by means of the vital statistics of various European countries has demonstrated that while the act may be regarded as a purely voluntary one, yet that suicide as a whole conforms there to certain general laws, and is influenced by conditions other than mere individual circumstances or surroundings. Thus it can be shown that each country has a different suicide-rate, and that while the rate for each country may fluctuate from year to year, yet it maintains practically the same relative proportions to the rates of other countries. The following table shows the suicide-rate for various European countries (Bertillon) TABLE I.



Period of


Annual Number

of Suicides

per Million


Saxony. .. ... .






Switzerland. .. .



Baden. .. .





France. .. .. .



Prussia. ... .




Sweden.. .


England and Wales







Ireland. .. .. .



1861-1865 .

1866-1870 .

65 per million living.

. 66

1871-1875 .


1876-1880 .

. 74

1881-1885 .


1886-1890 .

. 79

1891-1895 .

. 88

1896-1900 .

. 89

1901 -1905

. 100

In addition to furnishing materials for an approximately accurate estimate of the number of suicides which will occur in any country in a year, statistics have demonstrated that the proportion of male to female suicides is practically the same from year to year, viz. 3 or 4 males to 1 female; that it is possible to predict the month of greatest prevalence, the modes of death adopted by men on the one hand and women on the other, and even the relative frequency of suicide amongst persons following different professions and employments; and that in most of the countries of Europe the suicide-rate is increasing. In England and Wales the annual death-rate per million from suicide has steadily advanced, as is shown by the following figures for quinquennial periods: The next table illustrates the continued increase in recent years, and at the same time shows the total number and the number of male and female suicides each year from 1886 to 1905.







per Million








































































of Fre-




Both Sexes.



























































of Fre-




Both Sexes.


























































Total Suicide

Male and Female - in England and Wales, 1886-1905, together with the annual rate per million living (Registrar-General's Reports). The reason of the high suicide-rate in some countries as compared with others, and the causes of its progressive increase, are not easily determined. Various explanations have been offered, such as the influence of climate, the comparative prevalence of insanity, and the proportionate consumption of alcoholic drinks, but none satisfactorily accounts for the facts. It may, however, be remarked that suicide is much more common amongst Protestant than amongst Roman Catholic communities, while Jews have a smaller suicide-rate than Roman Catholics. A point of considerable interest is the increase of suicide in relation to the advance of elementary education. Ogle states that suicide is more common among the educated than the illiterate classes. It is also more prevalent in urban than in rural districts. A curious feature in large towns is the sudden outbreak of self-destruction which sometimes occurs, and which has led to its being described as epidemic. In such cases force of example and imitation undoubtedly play a considerable part, as it is well recognized that both these forces exert an influence not only in causing suicide, but also in suggesting the method, time and place for the act. No age above five years is exempted from furnishing its quota of suicidal deaths, although self-destruction between five and ten years is very rare. Above this age the proportion of suicides increases at each period, the maximum being reached between fifty-five and sixty-five. Among females there is a greater relative prevalence at earlier age periods than among males. The modes of suicide are found to vary very slightly in different countries. Hanging is most common amongst males; then drowning, injuries from fire-arms, stabs and cuts, poison and precipitation from heights. Amongst females, drowning comes first, while poison and hanging are more frequent than other methods entailing effusion of blood and disfigurement of the person. The methods used in England and Wales by suicides during 1888-1897, and in Scotland during the years 1881-1897, are given in the following table: TABLE III. Modes of Suicide in England and Wales, 1888-1897. Modes of Suicide in Scotland, 1881-1897. The season of the year influences suicide practically uniformly in all European countries, the number increasing from the commencement of the year to a maximum in May or June, and then declining again to a minimum in winter. Morselli attempts to account for this greater prevalence during what may well be called the most beautiful months of the year by attributing it to the influence of increased temperature upon the organism, while Durkheim suggests that the determining factor is more probably to be found in the length of the day and the effect of a longer period of daily activity. The suicide-rate is higher in certain male occupations and professions than in others (Ogle). Thus it is high amongst soldiers, doctors, innkeepers and chemists, and low for clergy, bargemen, railway drivers and stokers. The suicide-rate is twice as great for unoccupied males as for occupied males.


- Morselli, Il Suicidio (Milan, 1879); Legoyt, Le Suicide ancien et modern (Paris, 1881); Westcott, Suicide: its History, Literature, &c. (London, 1885); Ogle, "Suicides in England and Wales, in relation to Age, Sex, Season, and Occupation," Journal of the Statistical Society (1886), vol. xlix.; Strahan, Suicide and Insanity (London, 1893); Mayr, "Selbstmord statistik," in Handworterbuch der Staatswissenschaften (Jena, 1895); Durkheim, Le Suicide (Paris, 1897). (H. H. L.) Suidas, Greek lexicographer. Nothing is known of him, except that he must have lived before Eustathius (12th-13th century), who frequently quotes him. Under the heading "Adam" the author of the lexicon (which a prefatory note states to be "by Suidas") gives a brief chronology of the world, ending with the death of the emperor John Zimisces (975), and under "Constantinople" his successors Basil and Constantine are mentioned. It would thus appear that Suidas lived in the latter part of the 10th century. The passages in which Michael Psellus (end of the II th century) is referred to are considered later interpolations. The lexicon of Suidas is arranged alphabetically with some slight deviations, letters and combinations of letters having the same sound being placed together; thus, at and E follow 8, and a, rt, c follow It partakes of the nature of a dictionary and encyclopaedia. It includes numerous quotations from ancient writers; the scholiasts on Aristophanes, Homer, Sophocles and Thucydides are also much used. The biographical notices, the author tells us, are condensed from the Onomatologion or Pinax of Hesychius of Miletus; other sources were the excerpts of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the chronicle of Georgius Monachus, the biographies of Diogenes Laertius and the works of Athenaeus and Philostratus. The work deals with scriptural as well as pagan subjects, from which it is inferred that the writer was a Christian. A prefatory note gives a list of dictionaries from which the lexical portion was compiled, together with the names of their authors. Although the work is uncritical and probably much interpolated, and the value of the articles is very unequal, it contains much information on ancient history and life.

Editio princeps, by Demetrius Chalcondyles (i 499); later editions by L. Kiister (1705), T. Gaisford (1834), G. Bernhardy (1834-1853) and I. Bekker (1854); see A. Daub, De S. Biographicorum origine et fide (1880) and Studien zu den Biographika des S. (1882); and J. E. Sandys, Hist. of Cassical Scholarship (1906), p. 407.

<< Suhl

Suidun >>


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection


A forewarning

This page contains information about a topic that may make you uncomfortable. Please proceed only if you feel that you can do so.

What this book is (and isn't)

  • This book is an information source for those considering suicide.
  • This book is a work in progress.
  • This book is not censored of material that would often be deemed "inappropriate".
  • This book is not a replacement for psychological/psychiatric counseling.
  • This book is not "pro" or "anti" suicide.
  • This book and its talk pages are not the best place to ask for time-sensitive help. If you feel you need help, call a crisis counselor such as the ones listed here (US only).

Defining Suicide

  • Self-Sacrifice
  • Suicide in Nature (non human)

World Views

  • Moral Reasoning
  • Christianity
  • Japan
    • Seppuku
    • Kamikaze
  • Radical Islam
  • The Right to Die
  • Medical Views

Legal Issues

  • Assisted Suicide
  • Firearms

Common Motivations

Influence of Drugs


Perscription Drugs


Influence of Others

Hormonal Dysfunction


Mental Condition


Self Determination

Getting Help

By Country

Considering Others

Common Methods

  • Drowning
  • Electrocution
  • Explosion
  • Exsanguination (Bleeding)
  • Firearm
  • Hanging
  • Immolation
  • Jumping
  • Toxification (types of poison and results)
  • Suffocation (Usually in combination with overdose, if successful)
  • Starvation
  • Exposure

Unusual Methods

  • Planned Complex Suicide (AKA 'primary combined suicide')

These are suicide methods where multiple methods are combined, i.e. shooting yourself in water so you drown if you 'miss', or poisoning and then hanging yourself. Note: Link is for initial reference - It brings up interesting material, and clicking on related links on some sites brings up more detailed information about other suicide methods.

  • Decapitation

This usually involves machinery, such as a guillotine, chainsaw or automobile, or as an 'accidental' outcome of hanging with long drops intended to break the neck. Note: Links for initial reference - brings up news articles about people who chopped their own heads off. This usually makes the news.

An interesting article on hanging with decaptitation including computations on weight/rope length at Rabl, W. - Haid, Ch. - Katzgraber, F. - Walser, B.: Erhängen mit Dekapitation. Archiv für Kriminologie, 195, 1 - 2, 1995, s. 31 - 37. Czech reprint in Kriminalistika 4/2008.

No Attempt is Failproof

Assisted suicide

Other Resources

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

This article will treat the subject under the following three heads:

I. The notions and divisions of suicide; II. The principles according to which its morality must be judged; III. Statistics and explanations of its frequency.


Suicide is the act of one who causes his own death, either by positively destroying his own life, as by inflicting on himself a mortal wound or injury, or by omitting to do what is necessary to escape death, as by refusing to leave a burning house. From a moral standpoint we must treat therefore not only the prohibition of positive suicide, but also the obligation incumbent on man to preserve his life.

Suicide is direct when a man has the intention of causing his own death, whether as an end to be attained, or as a means to another end, as when a man kills himself to escape condemnation, disgrace, ruin etc. It is indirect, and not usually called by this name when a man does not desire it, either as an end or as a means, but when he nevertheless commits an act which in effect involves death, as when he devotes himself to the care of the plague-stricken knowing that he will succumb under the task.


The teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the morality of suicide may be summarized as follows:

A. Positive and Direct Suicide

Positive and direct suicide perpetrated without God's consent always constitutes a grave injustice towards Him. To destroy a thing is to dispose of it as an absolute master and to act as one having full and independent dominion over it; but man does not possess this full and independent dominion over his life, since to be an owner one must be superior to his property. God has reserved to himself direct dominion over life; He is the owner of its substance and He has given man only the serviceable dominion, the right of use, with the charge of protecting and preserving the substance, that is, life itself. Consequently suicide is an attempt against the dominion and right of ownership of the Creator. To this injustice is added a serious offence against the charity which man owes to himself, since by his act he deprives himself of the greatest good in his possession and the possibility of attaining his final end. Moreover, the sin may be aggravated by circumstances, such as failure in conjugal, paternal, or filial piety, failure in justice or charity, if by taking his life one eludes existing obligations of justice or acts of charity, which he could and should perform. That suicide is unlawful is the teaching of Holy Scripture and of the Church, which condemns the act as a most atrocious crime and, in hatred of the sin and to arouse the horror of its children, denies the suicide Christian burial. Moreover, suicide is directly opposed to the most powerful and invincible tendency of every creature and especially of man, the preservation of life. Finally, for a sane man deliberately to take his own life, he must, as a general rule, first have annihilated in himself all that he possessed of spiritual life, since suicide is in absolute contradiction to everything that the Christian religion teaches us as to the end and object of life and, except in cases of insanity, is usually the natural termination of a life of disorder, weakness, and cowardice.

The reason we have advanced to prove the malice of a suicide, namely, God's right and dominion, likewise justifies the modification of the general principle: God being the master of our life He may with His own consent remove from suicide whatever constitutes its disorder. Thus do some authorities justify the conduct of certain saints, who, impelled by the desire of martyrdom and especially to protect their chastity did not wait for their executioners to put them to death, but sought it in one manner or other themselves; nevertheless, the Divine will should be certain and clearly manifested in each particular case.

The question is asked: Can one who is condemned to death kill himself if ordered to do so by the judge? Some authors answer this question in the affirmative, basing their argument on the right which society possesses to punish certain malefactors with death and to commission any executioner, hence also the malefactor himself, to carry out the sentence. We share the most widely accepted opinion, that this practice, prevalent in certain countries of the East, is not lawful. Vindictive justice -- and for that matter all justice -- requires a distinction between the subject of a right and that of a duty, hence in the present case between the one who punishes and the one who is punished. Finally, the same principle which forbids anyone to personally compass his own death also forbids him to advise, direct, or command, with the direct intention of suicide, that another should slay him.

B. Positive and Indirect Suicide

Positive but indirect suicide committed without Divine consent is also unlawful unless, everything considered, there is sufficient reason for doing what will cause death to follow. Thus, it is not a sin, but an act of exalted virtue, to go into savage lands to preach the Gospel, or to the bedside of the plague stricken, to minister to them, although they who do so have before them the prospect of inevitable and speedy death; nor is it a sin for workmen in the discharge of duties to climb on roofs and buildings, thus exposing themselves to danger of death, etc. All this is lawful precisely because the act itself is good and upright, for in theory the persons in question have not in view either as end or means the evil result, that is, death, that will follow, and, moreover, if there be an evil result it is largely compensated for by the good and useful result which they seek. On the other hand there is sin in exposing oneself to danger of death to display courage, to win a wager, etc., because in all these cases the end does not in any way compensate for the danger of death that is run. To judge whether or not there is sufficient reason for an act which will apparently be followed by death, all the circumstances must be weighed, namely, the importance of the good result, the greater or less certainty of its being attained, the greater or less danger of death, etc., all questions which may in a specific case be very difficult to solve.

C. Negative and Direct Suicide

Negative and direct suicide without the consent of God constitutes the same sin as positive suicide. In fact man has over his life only the right of use with corresponding obligations to preserve the object of God's dominion, the substance of his life. Hence, it follows obviously that he fails in this obligation of usufructuary who neglects the necessary means for the preservation of life, and this with the intention of destroying the latter, and consequently violates the rights of God.

D. Negative and Indirect Suicide

Negative and indirect suicide without the consent of God is also an attempt against the rights of the Creator and an injustice towards Him whenever without sufficient cause a man neglects all the means of preservation of which he should make use. If a man as usufructuary is obliged in justice to preserve his life, it follows that he is equally bound to make use of all the ordinary means which are indicated in the usual course of things, namely:

  • he should employ all the ordinary means which nature itself provides, such as to eat, drink, sleep, and so on;
  • moreover, he should avoid all dangers which he may easily avoid, e.g. to flee from a burning house, to escape from an infuriated animal when it may be done without difficulty.

In fact to neglect the ordinary means for preserving life is equivalent to killing one's self, but the same is not true with regard to extraordinary means. Thus theologians teach that one is not bound in order to preserve life to employ remedies which, considering one's condition, are regarded as extraordinary and involving extraordinary expenditure; one is not obliged to undergo a very painful surgical operation, nor a considerable amputation, nor to go into exile in order to seek a more beneficial climate, etc. To use a comparison, the lessee of a house is bound to take care of it as becomes a good father of a family, to make use of the ordinary means for the preservation of the property, for instance, to extinguish a fire which he may easily extinguish, etc., but he is not bound to employ means considered extraordinary, such as to procure the latest novelties invented by science to prevent or extinguish fire.

Application of Principles

The principles which have been outlined in the four propositions or divisions above given should serve for the solution of particular cases; however, the application may not always be equally easy, and thus a person may by an objectively unlawful act take his life and nevertheless consider it permissible and even an act of exalted virtue.

It may be asked whether by performing or omitting a certain act a person may injure his health and shorten his life. To apply the foregoing principles: it is first of all clear (1st and 3rd propositions, A and C) that one may not have in view this hastening of death, but, this hypothesis aside, it may be said on the one hand that to expose oneself without sufficient reason to a considerable shortening of life constitutes a serious injury to the rights of the Creator; but on the other hand if the danger of death be not imminent, although it is to be feared that life may be shortened even by several years, it is not a grave but only a venial sin. This is the case with the drunkard who by his intemperance causes his premature death.

Again it must be borne in mind that with the addition of a reasonable motive the thing may be entirely lawful and even an act of virtue; thus the workman does not sin by devoting himself to rough labor, and the saints performed a very meritorious and highly virtuous act when in order to overcome their passions they lacerated and tortured their flesh by penance and fasting and were thus the cause of their earlier death.


The plague of suicide belongs especially to the period of decadence of the civilized peoples of antiquity, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. The Christian Middle Ages were unacquainted with this morbid tendency, but it has reappeared at a more recent period, has developed constantly since the Renaissance, and at present has reached such an intensity among all civilized nations that it may be considered one of the special evils of our time.

This suicide rate obviously includes suicides attributable to mental illness, but we cannot accept the opinion of a large number of physicians, moralists, and jurists who, led into error by a false philosophy, lay it down as a general rule that suicide is always due to insanity, so great is the horror which this act inspires in every man of sane mind. The Church rejects this theory and, while admitting exceptions, considers that those unfortunates who, impelled by despair or anger, attempt their life often act through malice or culpable cowardice. In fact, despair and anger are not as a general thing movements of the soul which it is impossible to resist, especially if one does not neglect the helps offered by religion, confidence in God, belief in the immortality of the soul and in a future life of rewards and punishments.

Widely different reasons have been advanced to explain the high frequency of suicide, but it is more correct to say that it does not depend on any one particular cause, but rather on an assemblage of factors, such as the social and economic situation, the misery of a great number, a more feverish pursuit of what is considered happiness, often ending in cruel deceptions, the ever more refined search for pleasure, a more precocious and intense stimulation of sexual life, intellectual overwork, the influence of the media and the sensational news with which it daily provides its readers, the influences of heredity, the ravages of alcoholism, etc. But it is undeniable that the religious factor is by far the most important, the increase in suicides keeping step with the de-Christianization of a country.

France presents a painful example parallel to the systematic de-Christianization; the number of suicides for each 100,000 of population increased from 8.32 in 1852 to 29 in 1900. The reason is obvious. Religion alone, and especially the Catholic religion, instructs us with regard to the true destiny of life and the importance of death; it alone furnishes a solution of the enigma of suffering, inasmuch as it shows man living in a land of exile and suffering as a means of acquiring the glory and happiness of a future life. By its doctrines of the efficacy of repentance and the practice of confession it relieves the moral suffering of man; it forbids and prevents to a large extent the disorders of life; in a word it is of a nature to prevent the causes which are calculated to impel a man to the extreme act.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.

Simple English

File:Edouard Manet
The suicide, by Édouard Manet.

Suicide is when a person chooses to kill him or herself. The word suicide is from the Latin words sui caedere, which means "to kill oneself". In English, when someone kills himself, people say that he "commits suicide". Doctors consider suicide attempts to be a symptom of a serious depression. Suicide is a crime in some places,[1] and it is considered a sin in many religions.[2][3][4][5]


Views of suicide


Modern medicine treats suicide as a mental health issue. When a person starts having many thoughts about killing his or her self, it is considered a medical emergency. Psychologists say that people who are planning to kill themselves should tell someone immediately. This is especially important if the person already has found a way of killing themselves. People who are depressed are considered a "high-risk" group for suicide. Suicide hotlines are available. Using these hotlines, people can tell someone about their thoughts and plans of suicide. People at the hotline may then find a way to solve these problems, so that the caller has no need to kill themselves.


In the Warring States Period and the Edo period of Japan, samurai who disgraced their honour chose to end their own lives by harakiri (hara means stomach and kiri means cut) or seppuku.

The cut is usually performed diagonally from the top corner of the hand that the samurai uses to write with, and it has long been considered an honourable form of death (even when done to punish dishonour). Though obviously such a wound would be fatal, seppuku was not always technically suicide because the samurai's assistant (the kaishaku) would stand by to kill the samurai by decapitating them to end the suffering, sometimes as soon as the first incision into the abdomen was made.


Abrahamic, Dharmic, and Taoistic religions all think that suicide is a bad thing.[needs proof]

Abrahamic religions

The Abrahamic religions, (like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) think that life is sacred. They believe that by killing yourself, you are murdering what God has made, which is bad. For this reason, a person who commits suicide is believed to go to hell by many followers of Abrahamic religions.

Dharmic and Taoist

The Dharmic and Taoist religions (like Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto) while having their differences, agree largely on their views to suicide. These people do not believe suicide is a good thing because they believe that someone who commits suicide will be reincarnated in the next life with a less enlightened soul. However, many people of these religions are more likely to commit suicide because they believe that there will be a next life.[needs proof] They think that by committing suicide, they may have a better chance in the next life.[needs proof]

Suicide as a weapon

Suicide is sometimes used as a form of killing other people.[6][7][8] For example, the Kamikazes.


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