This article is bound to cause an uncomfortable feeling amongst some and garner criticism over its depictions of a way out of life. However, I first want to highlight that there are many reasons why written works like this should exist. If you take this information in as a guide, then we cannot recommend or encourage that you take your own life. This was written for the curious, the researching and those who wish to understand how the human body can in-fact have an ‘off switch’.
There are multiple ways to kill yourself, but they don’t always factor in the character and feelings of the person carrying them out. This is why I have put some prominence on the scrutiny and consideration of ending one’s life.
I think it is very important that the person is taken into consideration, because all plans can be disrupted by a doubt, fear, indecision, or self-deception of one’s true feelings and desires.
First: Why do people want to take their lives, even if they are quite ‘normally’ surviving?
To answer this question we must dive into the scenarios of human thought and justification. Suicidal thoughts are often linked to depression and a loss of the will to live – and yes, that’s almost always the major factor – but there are plenty of reasons one may wish to put an end to their life. Suicidal emotions are prevalent when one:
- Is sick and dying and wants a stress-free way out that doesn’t involve mobility.
- Is depressed and can’t find the motivation to go the distances required for their situation.
- Is disgusted with life and wants a way out that isn’t too painful, messy or likely to fail.
- Wants to die for any of the listed reasons and is afraid of being discovered, seen as a coward, or judged as malevolent by those the person admires.
- Wants to go out fashionably, making a strong statement against enemies and detractors (such as bullies or ex-boyfriends/girlfriends or those who requested the person to ‘prove’ they were really suicidal)
- Wants revenge on society or group or a person, using suicide as the means of achieving their revenge
- Wants to perplex their loved ones or enemies by knowing that their exit from the world will shock and confuse.
- Feels as though there is more to life and that, in their death, they will enter another realm based on their spiritual beliefs
Suicide is always related to the fear of something. Whether the person is afraid of their existence, their depression, their inability to succeed, their inability to control their own body or the fear that they will be a burden on those they love.
The Empowerment of Accepting Death
We can be caught between knowing that we want to die and taking steps to accomplish it and really just wanting life to be different and trying to find some way to escape or hide from it. Attempting suicide can be a way of shuffling the deck. No matter how much we may decry the control exercised over us once we’ve failed an attempt, we are the ones who got us there. It is a means of changing the life we are leading (abandoning control, which a lot of us want to do but for which are afraid of the repercussions). This is in part why some people commit crimes — to return to a controlled environment where they cannot have to face the stress of decision-making.
Knowing that we can at any point terminate our lives can be a powerful incentive. Ok, now I can do anything. If the heat gets too much, I can exit and I don’t have to worry about the conditions I’ve created for myself. To many this is considered as the easy way out, the weak and selfish way out or the lazy way out. Is it selfish to say goodbye to your family, acknowledge the good times and bow out?
Preparing for the end
When one is dedicated to the task, suicide will not be difficult to achieve at all. the major problem is internal, not external. Some degree of self-analysis, preparation for death, the reaction one will not witness but apparently cause, etc., is important since we are conditioned to regulate our behaviour based on imagining the reaction others will feel in response to our choices.
Other than deciding on the method of self-termination, the practical preparation for suicide includes accepting one’s demise, how it will be effected, and one’s role in the social world prior to that event.
Deciding (or leaving undecided) the metaphysical issues inherent to the notion of suicide (such as how the cosmos may be structured, whether there are moral authorities who have forbidden the taking of your life, what happens to people when they die, whether it matters if someone has killed themselves as to the quality of any post-mortem experiences, etc.) is an important part of accepting the idea of effecting one’s own death.
Contemplating the likely responses to the type of suicide one has planned and the future development of the society in which one lives (i.e. how family and friends will react to the news of your choice to end your life, what, if any, repercussions, there may be to the message your death may symbolize, etc.) is essential in the construction of a satisfactory suicide method and context.
The ultimate ‘intelligence’ or ‘unexpectedness’ with suicide is perhaps the most shocking and well-thought-out elements of suicide. This may include lying to one’s friends and family (so as to avoid being bereft of autonomy and freedom in a misguided attempt to provide ‘help’), the resolution of administrative details (like arranging for payment of regular bills and any funerary expenses that will likely be incurred by your survivors, etc.), or a fierce and fiery ‘Shooting Star’ termination in which a huge mess is left to those whom you despise or have learned to disregard, knowing how to approach the world will put those destined for death one step ahead of those who may wish to see that a self-termination fails.
Fear of pain is an important reason to hesitate when contemplating self-termination. We want to terminate the pain we may be feeling (often psychological).
Many subjects who have survived suicide have stated that during what they believed were there final moments, they began to reconsider their situation.
For example; a man who had leapt from a bridge told that he began to feel a sudden tranquillity and type of rebirth during his descent. He survived the suicide and his mindset had changed. Likewise, many people who travel to Zurich to receive legal euthanasia have reportedly realised that, through expanding their horizons and discovering an all new ‘world’, they decide that they would start life anew.
We’ve gone through why – so HOW do people do it?
Asides from the obvious jump-off-bridge or pull-gun-trigger-at-head methods; there are several curiosities surrounding those who are trying to find methods on dealing with their own death. It wouldn’t be too farfetched to suggest that many seek ways to die in the same way that many seek ways on curing and surviving.
POSING A FAKE RISK TO GET SHOT
Some try to force police officers to kill them by buying a cheap toy gun that looks real enough from a distance. Get stopped by a police officer and, from a distance, get emotional and pull the weapon. Refuse to put it down when they command it. Take a firing stance and aim the toy. Best to obscure your body except for your head when beginning the escapade. The important thing is though – you will not only lose your own life, but you may very well traumatise the officers, civilians and families surrounding the incident.
ASPHYXIATION AND THE ‘EXIT BAG’
Asphyxiation has been the subject of many ‘natural’ suicides. The Hemlock Society (which supports the right of the terminally-ill to die) says that the rubber band method may cause discomfort and the suggestion of the ‘exit bag’ (pictured) is often given.
In 1990 German Factory worker Peter Ditert (Google Books has an archive of the newspaper which mentions him briefly here) had multiple failed attempts to take his life. Some may even argue that ‘fate’ was on his side: his gun barrel jammed, he consumed multiple poisons and hazardous substances and he survived a couple of intentional car-related incidents too. I was unable to find any information on whether or not Peter Ditert was still alive or if he had finally achieved his death.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, a 46 year old tried to kill himself 7 times after his wife left him. He even gassed his entire house and lit a match after the monoxide poisoning didn’t happen soon enough. He was rescued and later reported to be on good terms with his estranged wife.
The use of chemicals such as propane is commonly brought up as slightly nauseating to the respiratory tract and may only cause non-life-threatening effects. Common symptoms whilst trying to suffocate with propane include dizziness, headache, drowsiness, and nausea, muscular incoordination, disproportionate salivation, incomprehension, vomiting, and even extreme excitation. In punishing cases, seizures or loss-of-conscience may occur.
Many common Liquid Petroleum gas (LPG) stoves have a regulation feature inbuilt that prevents the gas valve to open unless the pilot light is lit. Most homes and stoves are fitted with this type of safety. Propane freezes when it is allowed to escape quickly – so, ironically, you would be burned by cold temperatures. The gas regulator features allow propane to escape slowly enough under pressure so that the jet doesn’t ice up.
Arterial Gas Embolism (known technically as “AGE”) embraces the idea that injecting air into the veins can cause an air bubble to facilitate a heart issue (likely, a heart attack) and kill you without the coroner being ever-the-wiser but this is somewhat of a myth. Small air bubbles injected into the vein cannot cause death. A large syringe would be required to give yourself a lethal dose of air. Surviving this suicide attempt could give render you brain-dead, which is arguably worse than dying.
Injecting a large dose of air into the body involves the air pocket travelling through the bloodstream and into the brain. Seeing as our brains are not meant to contain air, this initiates a stroke. Not all strokes kill.
KNOWN METHODS OF SUICIDE:
Some (most) of these are self-explanatory.
The rapid loss of blood (or Exsanguination) is an uncommon cause of death. Though publicised by many cultural references as a major solution to death, the mortality rate of those who have self-harmed with the intention of suicide is quite low.
(Often seen as technically an asphyxiation)
Self-defenestration (jumping from height, but specifically, from a window)
Simply jumping in front of a vehicle, train, bus, and lorry. Suicide by aircraft is the least common due to the difficulties of gaining access to the front of a taxiing plane or jumping from a plane. It should be noted that whilst hijacking and crashing a plane is the act of suicide, it is not regularly seen as an occurrence for suicide, contradictory to the ideology of kamikaze and suicide hijacking. Despite this, there have been instances where pilots have intentionally crashed the aircraft due to depression or the loss of will to live – however, this is perhaps recognised as murder or terrorism due to the multiple deaths that occur. This, of course, isn’t the case when it comes to a solo pilot intentionally crashing an aircraft or a group of willing suicidal passengers choosing to take part in a group mortality.
(Includes Drug overdose)
A reasonably useless method; Immolation (or in psychological terms – Self-Immolation) is the intentional basking in flames. This is usually survivable and bares the risk of rescue. Surviving self-immolation would incur drastic recovery and emotional scarring (not to mention the obvious physical scarring). Death by self-immolation is often used as a means of ‘peaceful’ and mind-strengthened protest rather than suicide.
Jumping into a volcano or enduring molten lava is also defined as self-immolation.
Ultimately though, I want to remind you all that this should not be taken as a literal guide to suicide.