A suicide method
is any means by which a person purposely kills himself or herself. Examples of methods that have been used to commit suicide
are listed below. Though individuals with suicidal feelings
may consider these methods, most eventually do not act on them.
Suicide methods can be classified according to two modes of interrupting life processes: physical or chemical. Physical modes of interruption typically act by incapacitating the respiratory system or the central nervous system, usually by destruction of one or more key components. Chemical modes focus on interrupting biologically significant processes such as inhibition of cellular respiration or reduction of diffusion capacity. Chemical methods of suicide produce latent evidence of action, while physical methods provide direct evidence.
is a method of death which is caused by blood loss
. It is usually the result of damage inflicted on arteries
. The carotid
arteries may be targeted.
This entails cutting through the wrists with the aim of tearing open the radial artery
and may damage the tendons
nerves which control the muscles of the hand, which can result in temporary or permanent reduction in sensory and motor ability.
Cutting the carotid artery
Cutting through the throat
is one method of exsanguination. Damage is inflicted to the carotid artery
which carries blood to the brain
; since there are two internal carotid arteries, both must be cut. Death could also be caused by blood entering the trachea
, which may then be aspirated, causing obstruction of the bronchioles
. People who use this method often sever the recurrent laryngeal nerve
, which controls the larynx
, and lose their voice.
It was also practiced as a ritual suicide method in Japan called jigai, by noble women for the same purposes as seppuku was used by men.
Suicide by drowning is the act of deliberately submerging oneself in water or other liquid and staying there long enough to prevent breathing and deprive the brain of oxygen. Due to the body's natural tendency to come up for air, drowning attempts often involve a heavy object, to circumvent this reflex. If the drowning is stopped before death, oxygen deprivation can cause brain damage. Drowning oneself is not often used.
Suicide by suffocation
is the act of inhibiting one's ability to breathe or to limit the oxygen uptake while breathing, which causes asphyxia
. This may involve a plastic bag tightly sealed over the head, or confinement in an enclosed space without oxygen. These attempts usually involve using depressants to make the user pass out before oxygen deprivation which prevents any escape instinct or panic. Inert gasses, such as helium and nitrogen, are sometimes used.
Suicide by electrocution involves using a lethal electric shock
to kill oneself. A high enough voltage
can overcome the high resistance
of the skin and pass a sizeable current
through the body. A large alternating current
through the body can seriously disrupt nerve signals
and can cause the heart
to go into fibrillation
When explosives are detonated with the intent of also harming others in close proximity it is commonly known as a suicide bombing.
Hanging is the prevalent means of suicide in pre-industrial societies and is still more common in rural rather than urban areas.
The traditional death penalty of hanging by gallows consists of a rope tied to a fixed object (i.e. the gallows), with one end tied into a hangman's noose and placed around the neck. The person falls through the release of a trap door (or leaps from a height, in the case of suicide), and death is instantaneous due to breaking of the neck.
Jumping in front of a fast-moving vehicle, especially a large one, such as a truck or train, can prove fatal. A classic example of suicide involves one tying oneself to railroad tracks in order to be run over by an oncoming train. This may be traumatizing to the driver of the vehicle. Not dying following impact of the vehicle would likely result in massive body damage including amputations, fractures
, brain damage
, organ bruising, or long-term to permanent disability.
Jumping in front of an underground train is a common form of suicide in London. Where a deep drainage pit is present, this halves the likelihood of fatality. Separation of the passengers from the track by means of a partition with sliding-doors is being introduced in some stations but this is expensive.
Some car accidents are in fact suicides. This especially applies to single-occupant, single-vehicle accidents. "The automobile lends itself admirably to attempts at self-destruction because of the frequency of its use, the generally accepted inherent hazards of driving, and the fact that it offers the individual an opportunity to imperil or end his life without consciously confronting himself with his suicidal intent.
The real percentage of suicides among car accidents is not reliably known; studies by suicide researchers tell that "vehicular fatalities that are suicides vary from 1.6% to 5%"..
Some suicides are misclassified as accidents because suicide must be proven. "It is noteworthy that even when suicide is strongly suspected but a suicide note is not found, the case will be classified 'accident.'"
Some researchers believe that suicides disguised as traffic accidents are far more prevalent than previously thought. One large-scale community survey among suicidal persons provided the following numbers: "Of those who reported planning a suicide, 14.8% (19.1% of male planners and 11.8% of female planners) had conceived to have a motor vehicle “accident”... Of all attempters, 8.3% (13.3% of male attempters) had previously attempted via motor vehicle collision.
The impact from jumping off a great enough height can shatter organs and tissues. If a person jumps from a tall bridge into water, the person may die by impact rather than by drowning. Such jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge
, of which there have been 1,300 incidents between 1937 and 2006, was depicted in the documentary film The Bridge
The 70 m (225 ft) plunge from the Golden Gate Bridge has proven to be fatal in 98% of cases. The jumper would hit the water at 120 km/h (about 75 mph). Most die of internal bleeding due to broken ribs which pierce the heart, lungs, liver or spleen. Survivors, who generally have hit the water feet-first, have often had their femurs shattered.
Authorities have tried to prevent jumping suicides by building fences or other barriers in potential areas, such as high towers and bridges. In some areas authorities have also installed telephones which link directly to suicide prevention hot lines.
, a term that is applied specifically to falling from a window opening.
Suicide can be committed by using fast-acting poisons
, or substances which are known for their high levels of toxicity
to humans. For example, most of the people of Jonestown
, in northwestern Guyana
, died when the leader of a religious sect
organised a mass suicide
by drinking a cocktail of diazepam
. Sufficient doses of some plants like the belladonna family, castor beans, and others, are also toxic.
Suicide by pharmaceuticals ("overdosing
") is a method which involves taking medication
in doses greater than the indicated levels, or in a combination which will enhance each drug's effect.
Reliability of this method highly depends on chosen drugs. Average fatality rate for overdoses in the US is estimated to be 1.8% .
Assisted suicide group Dignitas reported that there was no single failure among 840 cases, where an overdose of a former sleeping pill active agent Nembutal was used.
While barbiturate (like Seconal or Nembutal) are considered a safe option for suicide, it is becoming increasingly difficult to acquire these drugs. Today they are only available as a dilution and are used by veterinarians to kill animals.
However, a typical drug overdose uses random prescription and over-the-counter substances. In this case death is uncertain, and an attempt may leave a person alive but with severe organ damage, which may prove eventually fatal itself. Drugs taken orally may also be vomited back out before being absorbed. Considering the very high doses needed, vomiting or falling asleep before taking enough of the active agent might be a serious hurdle.
Analgesic overdose attempts are among the most common due to easy availability of over-the-counter substances. Overdosing may also be performed by mixing medications in a cocktail with one another, or with alcohol or illegal drugs. This method may leave confusion over whether the death was a suicide or accidental, especially when alcohol or other judgment-impairing substances are also involved and no suicide note was left behind.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
A particular type of poisoning involves inhalation of high levels of carbon monoxide. Death usually occurs through hypoxia
. In most cases carbon monoxide
(CO) is used because it is easily available as a product of incomplete combustion
; for example it may be released by cars
and some types of heaters
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas, so its presence cannot be detected by sight or smell. It is harmful to humans since the CO molecules attach themselves to hemoglobin in the blood, displacing oxygen molecules and progressively lowering the body's oxygenation, eventually resulting in death.
In the past, before air-quality regulations and catalytic converters, suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning would often be achieved by running a car's engine in a closed space such as a garage, or by redirecting a running car's exhaust back inside the cabin with a hose. Motor car exhaust may have contained up to 25% carbon monoxide. However, catalytic converters can eliminate over 99% of carbon monoxide produced.
The incidence of suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning through burning charcoal, such as a barbecue in a sealed room, appears to have risen. This has been referred by some as "death by hibachi".
Detergent-related suicide involves mixing household chemicals
to produce hydrogen sulfide
or other poisonous
usually refers to suicide by fire. It has been used as a protest tactic, most famously by Thich Quang Duc
in 1963 to protest the South Vietnamese government; and by Malachi Ritscher
in 2006 to protest the United States' involvement in the Iraq war. The Latin root of 'immolate' means 'sacrifice', and is not restricted to the use of fire, though common media usage uses the term self-immolation to refer to suicide by fire.
Seppuku (colloquially "harakiri") is a Japanese ritual
method of suicide, practised mostly in the medieval era
, though some isolated cases appear in modern times. For example, Yukio Mishima
committed seppuku in 1970
after a failed coup d'etat
intended to restore full power to the Japanese Emperor
Unlike other methods of suicide, this was regarded as a way of preserving one's honor. The ritual is part of bushido, the code of the Samurai.
Dressed ceremonially, with his sword placed in front of him and sometimes seated on special cloth, the warrior would prepare for death by writing a death poem. With a selected attendant (kaishakunin, his second) standing by, he would open his kimono, take up his wakizashi (short sword), fan, or a tanto (knife) and plunge it into his abdomen, making first a left-to-right cut and then a second slightly upward stroke. On the second stroke, the kaishakunin would perform daki-kubi, when the warrior is all but decapitated, leaving a slight band of flesh attaching the head to the body, so as to not let the head fall off the body and roll on the floor/ground; which was considered dishonorable in feudal Japan.
Apocarteresis (suicide by starvation)
Starvation has been used by Hindu, Jain and Buddhist monks as a ritual method of suicide.
A suicide attack
is an attack in which the attacker (attacker
being either an individual or a group) intends to kill others and intends to die in the process of doing so (Columbine, Virginia Tech.) In a suicide attack in the strict sense the attacker dies by the attack itself, for example in an explosion or crash caused by the attacker. The term is sometimes loosely applied to an incident in which the intention of the attacker is not clear though he is almost sure to die by the defence or retaliation of the attacked party. This can also be referred to as murder/suicide.
Such attacks are typically motivated by religious or political ideologies and have been carried out using numerous methods. For example, attackers might attach explosives directly to their bodies before detonating themselves close to their target, or they may use car bombs or other machinery to cause maximum damage (e.g. Japanese kamikaze pilots during World War II).
Islamic extremist terrorists have engaged in suicide attacks numerous times in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and also against the West at other times. Perpetrators believe the gains to others, or to a religious, political or moral cause, outweigh their personal loss and/or that they will be rewarded in the afterlife.
Additionally, teenage students (most often in the United States of America and recently in Finland) have committed several notable suicide attacks in recent years, in the form of school shooting massacres. Often, these suicide attacks involve guns or homemade bombs brought into high schools or college campuses. After the attack, the perpetrator will commit suicide before being apprehended.
Indirect suicide is the act of setting out on an obviously fatal course without directly committing the act upon oneself. Indirect suicide is differentiated from legally defined suicide by the fact that the actor does not pull the figurative (or literal) trigger. Examples of indirect suicide include a soldier enlisting in the army with the express intention and expectation of getting killed in combat. Another example would be provoking an armed officer into using lethal force against them. This is generally called "suicide by cop
". In some instances the subjects commits a capital crime in hope of being sentenced to death
. This state-assisted suicide
was extremely popular in Enlightment Era Scandinavia, where law and religion forbade suicide.
1993, 68 pages