Saturday, December 5, 2009

The act of dying

This also illustrates another point that one hears mentioned from time to time by suicidal individuals. Some people are just too scared or simply can not ever imagine themselves going through with the actual act of killing self. They do not see it as a thing they could ever do whilst at the same time having quite strong self destructive urges.

However the self destructive urges will continue to demand to be expressed regardless, so one has to find another way of expressing them. One way is to have an 'accident' or alternatively to have someone else kill you which is sometimes colloquially referred to as 'death by cop'. This phenomena has been discussed many times in forensic and police journals (see Jenet and Segal (1985)). That is, one behaves in a way such that the police will kill you. Some murders in domestic violence could also be this kind of suicidal act.

There is a insightful article By K. van Wormer and C, Odiah (1999). These writers describe a phenomenon called “Suicide-murder” (not the usual “murder-suicide”), because in this instance suicide is not viewed as a consequence of murder but as its cause. They cite research evidence based on case studies done in prisons with males who committed murders in states where the death penalty existed for such crimes.

They suggest that in some instances part of the motivation to commit the crime was so the state will kill them by execution. They were motivated at least in part by suicidal urges but felt they could never actually go through with the suicidal act so they behaved in such a way that the state would kill them. Many of the men presented in the case studies were clearly suicidal and some demonstrated they had clearly plotted their deaths long before arriving on death row.

In addition they discuss what they term voluntary executions. In the United States there were two hundred and twenty three executions between 1976 and 1993. Twenty nine of those were consensual or at the inmates request. In another study they report sixteen examples of men on death row who volunteered for the death penalty, usually by refusing to fight appeals of their cases. Indeed another two of individuals who had requested an execution were subsequently found innocent and released!

Each of these men chose death as a solution to their problems. They did not die by their own hand but chose to die by having the state kill them. Clearly these cases involved a conscious decision to die that persisted over a significant length of time and was carried out. This is a strong indicator that these men had made the suicidal decision early in their lives and it remained in their psyche until circumstances they created resulted in them enacting that solution to solve their problems.



  1. Wow, very interesting. Somewhat selfish of these people though - they can't actually go through with killing themselves, so they kill someone else in order to get on death row. That unfortunately leaves another human being dead. Collateral damage?

    Maybe this should wake people up to the fact that we have a right to decide when it's time for us to die.

  2. Hello Harriet,

    I suppose one could call it collateral damage and yes I agree it is most unfortunate. And I agree with you people have the right to choose when to die but it seems the government feels that it has to save us all.

    When I have presented this before people sometimes ask if I am really putting the "no" to capital punishment agenda. I acutally think there should be capital punishment for extreme cases, however what I have said above means that having capital punishment might actually increase the crime rate.


  3. "... however what I have said above means that having capital punishment might actually increase the crime rate."

    Yeah - weird huh?

  4. I know some teenagers who put themselves in violent situations Tony. Perhaps being targetted by other groups of teenagers in a kind of social justice system is another "kill me" - suicide mentality? Taking on older and aggressive persons without real hopes of "winning" means losing teeth and becoming marginalised further.

    Some people beat theselves up enough let alone getting others to do that for them. It does seems to be like despair acted out in the way where the self harm is done by others.


  5. That is a good point kenoath. We have suicides that are death by cop and then we could have self harm which could also be beaten up by cop (or the other gang, partners etc)