Suicide decisions

The Gouldings originally presented a list of 7 different types of Don’t exist decisions that can result in suicidal behaviour

If you don’t change I will kill myself

If things get too bad I will kill myself

I will show you even if it kills me

I will get you to kill me

I will kill myself be accident

I will almost die (over and over) to get you to love me

I will kill myself to hurt you

After a number of years work with suicidal people I have changed the list to fit with my observations of the suicide decisions. Or perhaps motivations people can have when feeling suicidal. I have removed some of the decisions presented by the Gouldings and changed some.

1. If things get too bad I will kill myself

2. I will kill myself by accident

3. I will kill myself and others by accident

4. I will get you to kill me

5. I will kill myself to hurt you

6. If you don’t change I will kill myself


#1 to my mind is the most common. Some more frequent examples of things getting too bad – Mood (such as depression or anxiety), domestic disruption, financial collapse, loss of reputation.

#2 & #3 are significantly underestimated in terms of the number of deaths as being at least partly suicidal. The line between accidents and suicide can often be blurry so some actions are a combination of the both. This can also account for what is sometimes known as a “normal person’s” suicide. People who are reasonably happy and well adjusted who engage repetitively in high risk activities such as some sports.

Death from motor vehicle “accidents” are a common way this suicide decision can be acted out. #3 actually involves two decisions. The suicide or Don’t exist decision and the homicide or Don’t you exist decision. For example a person who repeatedly drives a car in a fashion where the likelihood of their own and/or other’s deaths are significantly increased.

Another common way for #2 to be expressed is with drug overdose. Most often these are officially recorded as accidents but not infrequently they can be suicides or a combination of accident/suicide.

#4 can include ‘death by cop’, some of those on death row, associating with very violent people such as in organised crime, non compliance to medical advice with life threatening conditions, voluntarily entering a war zone.

ciggie smoker

#5 is the punishing type of suicidal act designed to hurt those from the grave. This often includes significant pre suicide fantasy. The individual has magical thinking such that they feel they will have some kind of consciousness after their death such that they can have knowledge of the suffering of others.

#6 like #5 is also punishing that is designed to hurt others. This must be distinguished from using suicidal threats as manipulation. In that instance the person is not suicidal as they do not intend to kill self. However sometimes they do die but in this case technically it is an accident not a suicide as there was never any intent to kill self. The primary intent was to manipulate the other.

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2 Responses to “Suicide decisions”

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  1. Tony Evans says:

    These are useful insights. I lost a brother through alcohol induced liver failure. In the last 6 weeks he was consuming 20+ full strength beers a night, despite having obvious stigmata of liver disease such as ascites, jaundice, and spider angioma. I had to conclude he knew this behaviour could only end one way, and in the not too distant future. To me his death was suicide. I wonder if I had known (we lived in different continents, and neither he nor his wife ever hinted at a problem) I could have offered him an alternative future.

    TI am pleased I found your site – I have a lot of confidence in the TA model, and it’s a pity it isn’t more widely known and used.



    • Tony White says:

      Yes I propose a model of suicidology were we look beyond the simple understanding of it. There is a need to have a wider understanding of suicide whch includes such situtaions as your brother. I am actually running a free webinair on this on wednesday. Tony

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