Suicide Methods – With so many methods of suicide, they are a real example of how grotesque human creativity can really be.
Below are some of the more common methods of suicide.
A gun shot is thought to be the most common and effective way to commit suicide, and accounts for 53.7% of all suicides in the United States.
The most common target to shoot is through the head to the brain or the heart, at point-blank range. Sometimes an attempt is made to shoot under the chin and through the mouth.
Shooting is not a fail-safe method. When a the gun shot method is unsuccessful, there is the huge chance of permanent damage to the body or brain.
If the gun is aimed at the temporal bone (the lower side of the skull), there is a 50% chance of suffering facial nerve damage if the shot is survived.
Choosing to commit suicide by a gun shot could fail for the following reasons:
- Poor aim (the heart and brain are more difficult to hit than many people think, as the bullet can pass through the temples without actually hitting the brain, and the heart is protected by the ribcage)
- Flinching can also cause one to miss the vital body parts needed to end ones life
- Poor ammunition such as badly manufactured or old bullets can contribute to surviving the gunshot and instead lead to nasty wounding
Another very common method of suicide attempts is by consuming large amounts of drugs and alcohol. This is usually attempted by mixing different types of medication together, and ingesting them along with alcohol or illegal drugs to create a deadly combination.
Despite being a common method of attempted suicide, the method itself is not reliable. Naturally, it depends on the type of drugs one chooses, but the overall success rate of taking a fatal overdose is estimated at less than 2%. Success from drug induced suicide is 40 to 1 against. Usually, attempts at taking a fatal overdose use over-the-counter or prescribed medications, and it is the more common method chosen when suicide is assisted (euthanasia). In the UK, data from the Office for National Statistics for 2001showed that of 1,243 drug related suicides, 28.5% were due to paracetamol and its compounds, and 24.5% were by anti-depressants, making these the top two methods. In the US the story is the same.
A common drug used for attempted suicides is sleeping tablets. Decades ago barbiturates were prescribed for sleep, it was possible to overdose on them. Although barbiturates can be highly lethal, they are now rarely prescribed, and extremely difficult to obtain. Barbiturates act as central nervous system depressants with effects from mild sedation to total anesthesia. Seconal (Secobarbital) and Nembutal (Pentobarbital) are the two most effective barbiturates for a swift, painless and swift death. Nembutal is currently the drug of choice for human euthanasia.Barbiturates have now largely been replaced by benzodiazepines treating anxiety and insomnia as they less dangerous in overdose.
This method of suicide is thought to be 75% effective, and is the main method of choice in places like prison where there are few other options available.
There are two main methods of hanging:
- Short Drop Suspension. Simply the act of using ones body weight to place pressure around the neck, blocking blood flow to the brain and air supply through the windpipe, eventually causing death
- Drop Hanging. This is the method of hanging made most popular by historical methods for the capital punishment of convicted criminals. Because this method involves dropping from a height, the force can increase the chances of a fatal neck or spinal break, making the method slightly more effective and potentially faster. However, although considered faster and more effective, the pain is more intense, and it can also cause more severe complications for those who survive
Another common suicide method, poisoning involves consuming a substance not designed for human ingestion. Popular choices are cleaning products, cyanide and industrial fluids. Other harmful substances not made for consumption also classes as poisoning.
Some poisons such as hydrogen cyanide act faster than other methods, although consumption of toxic plants like the belladonna family in high enough quantities can also prove fatal. Poisonous plants are usually a slower method and cause more pain.
One of the popular choices of a poisonous chemical, is bleach – a corrosive product that can eat through metal, remove stains, and kill the majority of bacteria.
Drinking bleach can kill a person if enough is consumed. It begins by erroding the throat, then the stomach, and finally leaks through to other internal organs. This causes unbearable stomach pain, vomiting, and is one of the most painful methods of suicide.
It has been observed that attempted suicides involving bleach have led people to throw themselves through sheets of glass in an attempt to end the pain faster.
As a general rule, successful suicide through poisoning is high, usually because if enough poison has been taken to end ones life, the effects are often irreversible, even if a last minute change of mind occurs.
On occasion, medical workers can reverse the effects of the poison, but the long-term effects are generally very nasty, and may make a persons life seem more miserable than before.
Inhaling Carbon Monoxide
The most popular way of utilizing Carbon Monoxide (CO) inhalation is for a person to enclose themselves within a space with a car. The car’s engine must be running, as this will then fill the space with the poisonous gas CO. People opting to end their life this way should choose an older car, as newer cars are designed to emit much smaller amounts of CO.
Alternatively, one could buy a tank of CO and attach a valve. Generally this takes around 15 minutes, although if there are exposed wires or light filaments in the proximity, an explosion may be caused – carbon monoxide is highly flammable.
People who have survived this method of attempted suicide have usually been left with memory loss, psychosis or blindness.
A pet name for a suffocation device is an exit bag. This usually is made up of a plastic bag with a drawstring, and can often be combined with a gas such as nitrogen or helium. The reason for the gas, is to painlessly cause unconsciousness so the discomfort of suffocating is avoided. The suffocation itself is caused by the high levels of carbon dioxide that are breathed back into the bag.
If a last minute change of mind occurs, there is a very high chance of suffering serious and sometimes permanent brain damage.
A 2007 study involving right-to-die groups suggested this method of suicide as being the least painful and one of the fastest.
This involves jumping from great heights such as building roofs, balconies and cliffs. The result is often highly lethal and effective, however failed attempts can lead to permanent disability through shattered bones in various places, and other horrific injuries.
Dropping from a height accounts for only 2% of reported US suicides based on a 2005 research project. Hong Kong however, with its high number of sky scrapers, makes jumping the method of choice for 52.1% of suicides (study results 2006).
Also called Exsanguination, this method is often showcased in films for dramatic effect. The most effective method is not to cut across the wrists, but up the forearm. The result when successful will reduce the blood volume and pressure to a fatal level.
Whilst it is a commonly portrayed method of suicide, it is not effective as hitting the right artery can be harder than it seems. Survivors often have deep scars, damaged tissue and sometimes – for those who are nearly successful and induce a huge level of blood-loss – brain damage.
Another common suicide method, this involves causing arrhythmias of the heart to slow or stop blood flow by invoking a lethal electric shock. This can be achieved by pushing a metal utensil into a plug socket, or dropping a plugged-in appliance into the bathtub whilst in it.
This method can fail, and when it does results in severe burns and nerve damage.
Another of the less common methods of suicide, it accounts for less than 2% of US suicides. To successfully drown a person must submerge themselves in liquid (usually water) to prevent the ability to breathe air, resulting in the lack of oxygen to the brain.
Popular choices of places to drown are baths, lakes and oceans.
Before death, the central nervous system begins the involuntary contraction of muscles, creating a jerking and a twitching.
Failure is usually caused by the bodies natural reaction to surface for air. When unsuccessful, the lack of oxygen to the brain can cause permanent brain damage.
There are many forms of this type of suicide, but the general description involves purposefully placing oneself in the path of an oncoming vehicle. This can include trains and fast moving cars.
Suicide by train impact is one of the most fatal, with a 90% death rate, but can carry some of the nastiest after effects if the suicide attempt is unsuccessful. These include limb amputations, permanent disability, chronic pain and brain damage.
It is difficult to judge the percentage of suicides involving car impact, as it is hard to tell which road deaths are accidental and which are deliberate. Success is less than that of train impact, although the effects of unsuccessful attempts can be similar.
Internationally, the consumption of pesticides and weed killers accounts for over 30% of suicides. This makes it one of the most common suicide methods of all.
In Finland the pesticide Parathion was a particular favourite in the 1950’s, although access to the chemical was restricted. It was quickly replaced by other similar chemicals.
Death can be very painful and failure can cause life-long effects on the body’s internal organs.
The technical name is Hypothermia, and involves a very cold and very slow death.
The stages of Hypothermia start with mild symptoms graduating through to severe. When freezing to death a person may experience shivering, hallucinations, loss of coordination, a warm sensation, and then death.
Even after a persons organs have shut down, the brain can still be kept alive through clinical stimulation and medical support.