Understanding The Motivations Behind Suicide:

While no single reason can account for each suicidal act, there are common characteristics associated with completed suicides. Perhaps they can help you to understand why someone you love died by suicide.

1) The common purpose of suicide is a solution. Suicide is many things, but it is neither random nor pointless. To those who choose to end their own lives, suicide is an answer to an unsolvable problem or a way out of a horrible dilemma. Suicide is somehow the preferred choice to another set of dreaded circumstances, emotional pain, or disability, which the person fears more than death.

2) The common goal of suicide is to cease consciousness. Those who die by suicide want to end the conscious experience, which, for them, has become an endless stream of distressing, preoccupying thoughts. Suicide offers oblivion.

3) The common stressor in suicide is frustrated psychological needs. People who have high standards and expectations are extra vulnerable to suicide when progress toward goals is suddenly frustrated. People who attribute failure and disappointment to their own shortcomings may come to view themselves as worthless, unlovable, and incompetent. In adults, suicide is often related to work or interpersonal problems. In teenagers, suicide is often precipitated by family turmoil.

4) The common stimulus in suicide is intolerable psychological pain. Excruciating negative emotions (i.e. sadness, shame, guilt, anger, and fear) from any circumstance frequently serve as the foundation for suicide.

5) The common internal attitude in suicide is ambivalence. Most of those who contemplate suicide - including those successful in carrying out their suicidal plans -are ambivalent. They do want to die, yet they also wish they could find another solution to their dilemma.

6) The common emotion in suicide is hopelessness and/or helplessness. A pervasive pessimistic expectation about the future is even more important than other types of negative emotions (anger, depression) in predicting suicide. A suicidal person is convinced that nothing whatsoever can improve the situation; that no one else can help.

7) The common cognitive state in suicide is constriction. Suicidal thoughts and plans are like tunnel vision. The suicidal person is unable or unwilling to engage in any effective problem-solving behaviors and may see everything in all or nothing terms.

8 ) The common interpersonal act in suicide is communication of intent. There's a harmful myth that those who really want to die by suicide do not talk about it. However, at least 80% of those who do end up killing themselves have spoken to others about their plans or have attempted suicide before.

9) The common action in suicide is escape. Suicide provides a way to escape from intolerable circumstances.

10) The common consistency in suicide is life-long coping patterns. During crisis periods that precipitate suicidal thoughts, people tend to use the response patterns they've used all of their life.

Related Pages on Band Back Together


Survivors of Suicide

Support for Family Members

Befrienders Worldwide: Organization that works to provide emotional support to reduce suicide. They want to listen to people who are in distress. They do not judge or tell them what to do. They LISTEN. They can also help with bereavement and grieving that follows the death of a loved one through suicide.

Survivors of Suicide: Independently owned site to help those who have lost loved ones to suicide deal with their grief.

American Association of Suicidology: an educational site that is devoted to understanding and preventing suicide. They are attempting to advance Suicidology as a science; encouraging, developing and disseminating scholarly work in suicidology. They encourage the development and application of strategies that reduce the incidence and prevalence of suicidal behaviors.

Suicide Awareness Voices Of Education (SAVE): this site's mission is to educate the public about suicide, reduce the stigma of suicide, and serve as a resource for those touched by suicide. Many links to community resources, information about intervention strategies to prevent suicide, and all kinds of information about mental illnesses are available.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: provides funding for scientific research, educational materials for professionals, as well as programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk.