Suicide method

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History of suicide
List of suicides
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Types of suicide
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Related phenomena
Parasuicide | Self-harm
Suicidal ideation | Suicide note
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A suicide method is any means by which someone purposely kills himself/herself. Methods that have been used to commit suicide include:


[edit] Bleeding

Exsanguination is a method of death which is caused by blood loss. It is usually the result of damage inflicted on arteries. The carotid, radial, ulnar or femoral arteries would be targeted, as they are fairly shallow in places where the pulse can be felt.

[edit] 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, and it takes no longer than a few minutes to lose enough blood for death to occur, although death could also be caused by blood clogging the trachea.

It was also practiced as a ritual suicide method in Japan, by noble women for the same purposes as seppuku was used by men.

[edit] Cutting the radial or ulnar arteries

Slashing or slitting one's wrists entails cutting through the wrists until one of the arteries was damaged. There would be slow blood loss from the radial and/or the ulnar artery.

It is not an immediately lethal method, as the arteries tend to try to spasm shut in response to blood loss. Bleeding to death by veins is even harder and rarer. It can take a few hours or even more to finally die from the blood loss, depending on a number of variables.[citation needed] This method is also frequently used as self-harm, therefore, not all people who slash their wrists intend suicide (this is then called parasuicide where suicide is either not sought or is not accomplished). In these cases, there may be collateral damage to nerves and tendons, which could cause partial loss of sensation, or the ability to control one's hand.

[edit] Burning (self-immolation)

Main article: Self-immolation
Thích Quảng Đức pictured during his self-immolation.
Thích Quảng Đức pictured during his self-immolation.

Self-immolation is the act of setting oneself on fire; an accelerant such as gasoline is frequently used to hasten death.

There are many documented cases of this method as a public and often spectacular method of protest, particularly but not exclusively within or against repressive regimes. Thích Quảng Ðức, a Buddhist monk, burned himself alive in 1963 in protest against the oppression of Buddhism by the administration of Vietnamese Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm. Burning to death can take several minutes to several hours, making this a painful way to expire.

Death may result from smoke inhalation, shock, or after a period of days, systemic failure. A person who survives self-immolation may still suffer extensive burns.

Other people who have chosen this way to die:

The BBC have reported that there have been a significant number of cases among Afghan women.[2]

[edit] Drowning

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. Genuine cases of drowning are determined by whether the victim's lungs are filled with water. As with other deaths by suffocation, if the drowning is stopped before death, oxygen deprivation can cause brain damage.

The writer Virginia Woolf drowned herself by walking into water with stones in her pockets, weighing down her body to prevent buoyancy or escape.

Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, drowned after being removed from power on charges of insanity. He was officially deemed to have committed suicide, but some doubt exists whether his death was suicide or assassination.

[edit] Drug overdosing

Suicide by pharmaceuticals ("overdosing") is a method which involves taking medication in doses of several times greater than the indicated levels, or in a combination which will enhance each drug's effect. Due to the unpredictability of dosing requirements, death is uncertain, and an attempt may leave a person alive but with severe organ damage. Drugs taken orally may also be vomited back out before being absorbed.

Painkiller overdoses are among the most common due to easy availablilty of over-the-counter substances, and are unpleasant things for medical personnel to deal with. Teenagers, most often, take medication such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) in a 'cry for help', believing mistakenly that these everyday drugs will not cause too much damage.[citation needed] People who overdose on paracetamol may have no serious adverse symptoms for days afterwards. But actually paracetamol can cause very painful liver failure over a period of days, so it is common for people to regret their action whilst in hospital when it is too late to do anything about it[citation needed]: short of a liver transplantation, there is currently no medical treatment for liver failure. However, if medical treatment is sought within a few hours of taking the drug, the effect of a paracetamol overdose can be reversed.

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. Some mixtures, such as the Darvon cocktail have been designed to result in an apparently effective and painless death.

[edit] Electrocuting

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 sizable current through the trunk. A large alternating current through the body can seriously disrupt nerve signals and can cause the heart to go into fibrillation.

In this method of suicide, water is often involved, as materials dissolved in water conduct electricity to some extent conductor of electricity. One method is to sit in a bathtub full of water and throw in an electrical device that is plugged into an outlet of mains electricity.[citation needed]

Today, many countries have adopted electricity safety and wiring regulations which would render this method of suicide virtually impossible: circuit breakers and residual-current devices in most modern installations, and fuses housed inside electrical appliances, acting together, will trip in the vast majority of cases and prevent a lethal shock.[citation needed] (The "MythBusters" found that in practice such devices do much to prevent electrocution. See Season 2, episode 19.)

[edit] Hanging

Main article: Hanging
Suicide by hanging.
Suicide by hanging.

Hanging is typically performed in the one of the following three ways:

  1. Drop hanging The traditional death penalty of hanging by gallows is based on this method. One end of the rope is tied to some fixed object (i.e. the gallows), the other end is made into a noose and put around the neck, the person falls through the release of a trap door (or jumps, in the case of suicide) from a height, and death will be instantaneous due to breaking of the neck. If the neck is not broken, asphyxiation due to the obstructed trachea will ultimately lead to death.
  2. Vertical position variant of the above, but without the fall. A person asphyxiates on a noose which blocks his/her windpipe using their own weight. This is slower than the previous method.
  3. Horizontal position This is usually done when conditions do not allow for other means. The person puts a noose around his or her neck and attaches the other end to something that sticks out (e.g., a doorknob or water tap) and then uses his or her own force to push away from it, or establishes a position where gravity can help. Due to prolonged asphyxiation, blood may pool in the eyes before death.

[edit] Jumping

Jumping from a great height can shatter organs and tissues. If a person jumps from a bridge into water, the person may die by drowning rather than by impact, especially if the bridge lies low over the water. Methods File. Retrieved 15 May 2006.</ref>

[edit] Poisoning

Suicide can be committed by using fast-acting poisons, or substances which are known for their high levels of toxicity to humans. For example, the people of Jonestown, in northwestern Guyana, all died when the leader of a religious sect organised a mass suicide by drinking a cocktail of diazepam and cyanide in 1978.[3]

With some frequency in the past, household and industrial chemicals would be consumed, such as lye or photographic solutions containing cyanide.[citation needed]

[edit] Provoking a police officer

Main article: Suicide by cop

In order to commit suicide involving a police officer, an individual behaves in a manner intended to provoke a law enforcement officer into use of lethal force against that individual.

[edit] Seppuku

Main article: Seppuku

Seppuku is a Japanese ritual method of suicide, practiced 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.

Contrary to other methods of suicide, this was regarded as a way of preserving one's honour. 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.

[edit] Shooting

Methods of suicide among person aged 15-19. The use of a firearm is the leading method in the United States.
Methods of suicide among person aged 15-19. The use of a firearm is the leading method in the United States.

This method involves using a firearm to cause a fatal injury to oneself. It is used more frequently in countries where firearms are easier to obtain, and is the leading method in the United States. It is debatable, however, if that increases the number of suicides in general. It might be that it just increases the number of people choosing this method. In countries where firearms are harder to obtain, this method is sometimes still used, especially by people who use firearms in their work (e.g., soldiers or police).

Brain or heart damage kills a person more quickly; however, the gun must be powerful enough for that to succeed. Mortality also depends on where the shot is aimed, usually the side of forehead (temple) or in the mouth (both ways ultimately aimed at the brain). In some cases the heart is chosen as a target, but it is harder to aim correctly. Being shot in other parts of the anatomy may not result in death or lethal damage.

Although shooting suicides have a high mortality rate, there are occasionally seemingly miraculous cases of survivals where the bullet has caused little or no damage to life-critical faculties, mostly due to the skull changing the bullet's trajectory and forcing it to exit with practically no damage done[citation needed]. More commonly, there are many cases of brain damage and severe physical trauma that do not result in loss of life. The use of shotguns in suicides often results in injury rather than death. Subjects tend to lean forward in order depress the trigger and thus misalign the barrel too far forward. In such scenarios, the face often bears the brunt of the pellets.

Some studies have shown that in Western nations, men tend to use this method of suicide more often than women, which has been cited as one potential reason for the higher suicide success rate among men. Though most men shoot themselves in the head, women tend to shoot themselves in the heart.[4]

[edit] Starving

This type of suicide, known as Upwas to Hindus, and as Sallekhana to Jains, is considered by some cultures to be the only legitimate suicide method, because it cannot be done impulsively, and requires the person to be completely prepared and mentally strong, unlike other forms of suicide, which are faster and 'easier'. The person might spend the time beforehand detaching themselves from the world, in meditation.[citation needed]

It takes a long time and is rare in western society. Also, when a person collapses due to starvation, it is still possible in most cases to save them by injecting nutrients intravenously.[citation needed]

[edit] Suffocating (asphyxiation)

A plastic bag may be used for this method, often combined with sleep-inducing drugs, a near overdose or other ingredients such as glue which is inhaled with intentions of causing hallucinations or drowsiness.[citation needed]

Sleep or extreme drowsiness sets in as a result of the solvent or narcotic. Normally, the survival instinct of air hunger kicks in due to high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood (Contrary to popular belief, air hunger is not due to a lack of oxygen). The person may eventually suffocate during sleep. Once the person becomes unconscious or falls asleep, he/she likely has no further control over events. However, air hunger is a powerful instinct, and it is possible for the person to unconsciously tear off the plastic bag even in his or her sleep. As with all situations of asphyxia, there is a risk of brain damage should suicide be rendered incomplete.

[edit] Carbon monoxide poisoning

A particular type of asphyxia is via inhalation of high levels of Carbon monoxide.

Death usually occurs through hypoxia. In most cases carbon monoxide (CO) is used for this, as it is easily available as a product of combustion; for example, it can be released by cars and some types of heaters where there has been incomplete combustion.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas, so its presence cannot be detected. It is harmful to the human organism as the CO molecules attach themselves irreversibly 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 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. However, the incidence of suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning through burning fossil fuel or charcoal (charcoal-burning suicide) within a confined space appears to have risen.[5][6]

In cases where levels of Carbon dioxide are not high enough to induce asphyxia, secondary poisoning may result in death.

[edit] Suicide attack

Main article: Suicide attack

The primary aim of a suicide attack is not to die, but to inflict damage to buildings and objects and/or cause human casualties. In fact, it is often carried out by individuals who do not care if they live or die as the outcome. They may attach bombs to themselves, use car bombs or other machinery, such as vehicles, to cause maximum damage. Some sources refer to this as a "homicide attack", to emphasize the idea that killing other people is usually the primary purpose of such an attack.

Suicide attacks have a rich history. The Japanese kamikaze pilots tried suicide attacks against American carriers towards the end of World War II.

Islamist extremist terrorists have used this method numerous times in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and also against the West at other times. Perpetrators believe that 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.

The September 11, 2001 attacks by Al-Qaeda using civilian aircraft on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon are examples of suicide attacks.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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