An Introduction to SUICIDE

What constitutes Attempted Suicide?
Do Not Be Afraid
Suicide's Primary Cause
The Paradox of Suicide
Suicide is always premature
Examples From Around The World
The TRUE Scale of Suicide is Unknowable
Suicide Statistics Mislead
What constitutes suicide
What constitutes Attempted Suicide?
When Suicide Fails

Attempted Suicide


The situation regarding the calculation of rates of attempted suicide is even less credible. Whilst successful suicides may, or may not, be classified as suicides; who can say what is a genuine attempt at suicide, and what will be dismissed as self injury or as 'attention seeking'?


Suicide woman banned from rivers
Pulteney Bridge, Bath
Ms Sutton jumped into the River Avon on three occasions
A woman who has attempted suicide four times has been banned from jumping into rivers, canals or onto railway lines.

Bath magistrates granted an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) against Kim Sutton from Odd Down.

The 23-year-old was rescued three times from the River Avon in Bath last year after trying to take her life.

She was also found hanging from a railway parapet and police had to stop trains to rescue her. Sutton could be jailed for breaking the order.

On Thursday, magistrates sentenced her for three public order offences after deciding at an earlier hearing that throwing herself into a river did constitute disorder.

The Asbo seeks to prevent her doing anything which could cause alarm or distress to the public.

What constitutes attempted suicide?

Every day of the year,  many of us engage in suicidal actions which fail to result in death. These activities are labelled attempted suicide or parasuicide. Research suggests that those of us who engage in these activities are almost 23 times more likely to eventually die by our own hands than those of us who do not. Other researchers disagree. One set of findings goes so far as to suggest that those of us who engage in parasuicidal activity are 100 times more likely to die by suicide.


Having said that, it is not uncommon for those of us experiencing serious emotional crises to do something which has all of the characteristics of a serious suicide attempt - but which is not.


He or she may not have seriously intended to complete the action. Or may simply have staged an (apparent) attempt (according to experts) to worry, shock, concern or otherwise "manipulate" others.


Such actions are known as suicidal gestures and are generally dismissed as simply being a "cry for help".


These non-lethal activities (gestures) usually leave 'obvious' signs of some type of attempt; and may have taken place at a time and place when it is highly probable that he or she would be discovered and saved in the nick of time.


In contrast, a person who seriously wishes to end their own suffering can also fail in their attempt. This 'failure' could be due to ignorance, lack of knowledge about what is required, what to do and what to expect.  Fear, heightened anxiety and an  unwillingness to try methods that may fail – and yet result in permanent damage if they do fail can cause failure. Concerns over the possibility of unintentional risk and harm to others, the fear of rescue, or simple bad luck (etc): All could serve to precipitate failure. In such situations, these actions are 'regarded' as being a suicidal attempt.


Deciding what is a suicidal attempt and what is a suicidal gesture is not an easy judgement for anyone to make. The intent behind the action (attempt or gesture) is obscured by the fact that suicidal people are ambivalent. Not really wanting  to die – but simply not wanting to continue.


Most of us are torn between living or death when experiencing a suicidal crisis.


Issues such as intent and motivation will not always appear clear. With intent being virtually impossible to verify, there are many who believe that all near-suicides are suicidal gestures. Not serious attempts, just gestures.


If these actions are mere 'gestures', then why do so many people end up with such severe, debilitating injuries, sometimes life-threatening and permanent? Such terrible injuries do seem a most unlikely outcome for a suicidal 'gesture'.


Indeed, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (Ontario) suicide is the sixth leading cause of disability and infirmity worldwide.


In order to explain away these horrific injuries. experts  suggest that many of us who wish to make a gesture may be killing ourselves by accident. Cutting too deep. Failing to understand the lethality of our chosen method. Miscalculating discovery.  Ashyxiating on vomit following an intentional overdose etc.


Answering the all-important question (was this action an attempt, or a gesture?) is a medical judgement-call which will probably be a snap decision. Made in an hospital environment by an overworked, over-stressed professional who could regard all such injuries as forms of self injury and record them as such.
This happens.
Consequently statistics purporting to demonstrate actual numbers of attempted suicides cannot be accurate and can not be relied upon.