Monday, March 21, 2011

Suicide and being killed

In my book I take some time to look at what actually constitutes suicide. A definition of it so to speak. It seems to me that most have quite a simplistic and one dimensional approach to it. One can conceptualise of three groups of people who could be considered suicidal in some form.

Group 1. Those who plan to kill self, have made the suicide decision and the suicidal ambivalence is heavily weighted to AC side. These people typically report feeling depressed, anxiety, despair or some other kind of pervasive angst. This is what most would see as the suicidal group.

Group 2. Those who will never do the act of suicide them self but may have made the suicide decision. It is simply either not in their behavioural repertoire or they have made a special kind of suicide decision.

gun to girl head

There are seven different suicide decisions of which two are:

I will get you to kill me

I will kill myself by accident

How does one get to kill self by accident. There are a number of ways

Car or motorbike accidents
Drug overdoses
High risk sports
Working with dangerous animals

How does one get someone else to kill them. There are a number of ways

Domestic violence. Behave in a particular way with a very violent other

Death by cop

Become involved in criminal activity where people kill each other - both as police and the crims.

Get the state kill you with the death penalty

Go voluntarily into a war zone

Refuse treatment for a life threatening illness

Shot man Vietnam

Group 3. This is a more contentious definition of suicide. These people present as clearly non suicidal. They will state they feel good and have everything to live for. In addition they consistently place self in circumstances voluntarily where the likelihood of being killed significantly increases. Examples could be Steve Irwin and Peter Brock. They appear quite non suicidal and yet repeatedly place self in circumstances where the risk of death significantly increases. Is this suicidal behaviour or not? This can also apply for someone who smokes 50 cigarettes a day. Is that suicidal behaviour?

smoking girl

However what I wish to discuss at this juncture is a piece of research I came across

“Female soldiers' suicide rate triples when at war”.
Recent research reported in the magazine USA TODAY (March 2011) Gregg Zoroya

This research on US military found

1. When female soldiers deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq the suicide rate triples from 5/100,000 to 15/100,000.

2. When male soldiers deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq there is a 30% increase in the suicide rate from 15/100,000 to 21/100,000.

This could be seen to support the contention that going into a war zone can be used as a way to fulfil the suicide decision:

I will get you to kill me.

Obviously in a war zone there are plenty of people trying to kill you.

Or at least those who have made some kind of suicide decision

Those who are actually deployed may be a self selecting group to some extent. Those who have made this suicide decision will get themselves into the circumstances where they are more likely to be deployed than other non suicidal people in the military. One reason why the suicide rate increases is because the group has selected in, more suicidal people.

Army homeing pidgeons

In the report on the research the researches say the usual stuff. People deployed to such war zones are more stressed and so forth and this maybe the cause of such statistics.

There is an alternate explanation. Stress has never made anyone suicidal. What stress can do is make an already suicidal person more likely to act on their self destructive urges. Thus a person who has made the suicide decision is more likely to end up in a war zone and when stressed is more likely to act on that decision. Hence the rate of suicide goes up.



  1. This is very relatable.
    I loved it....makes me remember why I used to frequent your blog.

  2. But cannot stress lead to depression lead to suicidal?

  3. Hello Shruti, good to hear from you again!!

    Hope all is well for you and your family

    thanks for the kind comments


  4. Hello Kahless,

    Its not friday night yet!

    Maybe you decided to take your convivials a day early this week.

    People who are prone to depression can become more depressed if under greater stress as you assert.

    However as I say in my post stress never made anyone suicidal and also depression never made anyone suicidal. About 10% of depressed people are at some risk of a serious suicide attempt. And that is serious depression not average persons depression.

    What makes people suicidal (in the usual circumstances) is making the sucide decision early on in life. If you don't make such a decision then you can get as depressed and stressed as you like and sucide will never be considered as a serious option.

    Almost everyone has thought of suicide at some point but only a small group will ever act on those thoughts. That is those who have made the sucide decision in childhood.

    C u friday night in cyberland, maybe?


  5. Actually, no drink only drugs (prescription of course.)

    I had a holiday today and monday, hence I guess last night was my friday night.