Suicide is the act of willfully ending one’s own life. Suicide can also refer to the individual who has committed or attempted the act..


  1. Drowning – The act of deliberately submerging oneself in water long enough to prevent breathing and deprive the brain of oxygen.
  2. Burning – the act of setting oneself on fire, an accelerant such as gasoline is frequently used to hasten death.
  3. Electrocution – Using a lethal electric shock to kill oneself
  4. Hanging – Using a rope to cut of air supply to the brain and other organs, thus causing the cessation of life.
  5. Jumping – Jumping from a tall building or from a bridge. The impact can shatter organs and tissues.
  6. Overdosing – A method which involves taking medication in doses greater than the indicated levels, or in lethal combinations. 
  7. Asphyxiation – A plastic bag is 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.
  8. Poisoning – Using poisons, or substances which are known for their high levels of toxicity.
  9. Shooting – Leading method of persons aged 15-19 involves using a firearm to cause a fatal injury to oneself.
  10. Exsanguination – A method of death which is caused by blood loss. It usually results in damage inflicted on arteries. The carotid, radial, ulna or femoral arteries would be targeted, as they are fairly shallow in places where the pulse can be felt.
  11. Carbon monoxide poisoning – Death usually occurs through hypoxia. Carbon Monoxide is released by cars and some types of heaters where there has been incomplete combustion.
  12. Suicide by police – Behaving in a manner deliberately threatening other lives in front of a Police officer or other armed officer, provoking the officer to use his/her weapon to kill.


  1. Untreated Depression – The number one reason for suicide is untreated depression resulting in a loss of hope, desperation, and feelings of loneliness.
  2. Accidental – A number of suicides occur as mere attempts at attention seeking which result in permanent consequences.
  3. Physical or emotional pain
  4. Stress
  5. Substance abuse – Use of drugs greatly increases the likelihood of suicide
  6. Financial loss – Either through their own decision making and choices or merely circumstantial


  1. 90% of people who commit suicide have depression or another diagnosable mental illness or substance abuse disorder
  2. The number one cause of suicide is untreated depression
  3. Suicide has ranked at the 3rd leading cause of death for young people nationally
  4. There are three female attempts for every male attempt at suicide.
  5. Males are four times as likely to die from their attempts.
  6. Probing Questions:
  7. What is causing the pain you are trying to escape?
  8. Who can you talk to about what’s going on in your life?
  9. How would you go about killing yourself?
  10. What means do you have to accomplish your plan?
  11. How have you tried suicide in the past?
  12. How often do you think about suicide?
  13. When do you become the most depressed?
  14. What do you think will happen after you commit suicide?
  15. Who do you love most in your life?
  16. Who will hurt the most if you are no longer alive?

Related Issues:

  1. Grief
  2. Depression
  3. God’s Will
  4. Anxiety
  5. Substance Abuse



  1. Subtle Hints – It is not uncommon for those who are contemplating suicide to drop hints at what they are planning. Always take these hints seriously. Never assume that they are simply seeking attention.
  2. Empathize – Listen closely for their greatest sources of pain and try to identify with them. Communicate that you understand the pain that they are experiencing.
  3. Do Not Judge – Spend time building a relationship with them. Ask good probing questions and talk in terms of how hard it must be for them. You cannot simply tell them that suicide is wrong.
  4. Support Networks – People considering suicide often feel alone and isolated. Listen for potential support networks already existent in the caller’s life. Social support is an absolute must for those struggling with suicide. These may be the people that you have to turn to intervene in the caller’s life.
  5. Consistency – Listen for consistency in their story. Sometimes teens will feign suicidal ideology in order to get attention. NEVER assume this; however, you do want to ensure that they are serious. Listen for consistencies through the life of their story.


  1. Due to the perceived lack of options, the caller needs to know that there is hope. Encourage her with the available alternative options other than suicide. You will have to be persistent because they have already locked into believing that death is their only viable alternative.
  2. Encourage them to turn to God for help in their current circumstances. This is not an over spiritualization of the issue. You have to help them understand that God can help them and He wants to help them.
  3. Remind the caller of the people in his or her life that will be hurt by this decision. Do not use guilt; rather help them see the immense pain that these people will experience.
  4. Share YOUR love for them. Assure them that you care about their life and will be impacted by their decision to end their life.
  5. If they have a spiritual foundation in Christ, be assertive in using their spirituality as a means of coping.

Apply Scripture:

  1. God has a wonderful plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11)
  2. Jesus came so we could have life, not death (John 10:10)
  3. We should honor God with our body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
  4. God wants to bear your burdens (Matthew 11:28)
  5. Examples of Biblical Characters who desired to die
    1. Moses – Numbers 11:11-15
    2. Elijah – 1 Kings 19:4
    3. Job – Job 3:1-26
    4. Jonah – Jonah 4
  6. God will meet all your needs (Philippians 4:19)
  7. God is strong in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
  8. God will direct our path and help us (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  9. God wants us to excel in our work for him (1 Corinthians 15:55-58)


  1. Ask God for wisdom and guidance in decision making
  2. Strength to do the right thing
  3. Friendships that can be a support
  4. Courage to talk to someone when things get bad
  5. Purpose and meaning in life

Barriers to Healing:

Sometimes people are fighting against physiological factors such as clinical depression or some other mental illness. It is not about choice for them because they can not rationally see any options.
Cultural norming may be playing a role in perpetuating the problem. Friends may be talking a lot about suicide and there may even be a familial or peer history of suicide..

Duty to Report: (YES)
Any caller who calls and threatens suicide should be referred to the “contract for life” and if lethality is possible, then reporting is a necessity.

Referral Network:

  1. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education or  1-952-946-7998
    9001 E. Bloomington Fwy.
    Suite #150
    Bloomington, MN 55420
    SAVE’s Mission is to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, eliminate stigma and serve as a resource to those touched by suicide.
  2. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or 1-800-273-8255
    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. Callers are routed to the closest possible crisis center in their area. With over 120 crisis centers across the country, their mission is to provide immediate assistance to anyone seeking mental health services.
  3. Youth America Hotline or 1-877-968-8454
    YAH is the first and only toll free, peer to peer hotline network linking callers to community based peer counseling hotlines in the nation.

Recommended Reading:

Colt, George Howe. November of the Soul: The Enigma of Suicide. Scribner,

Jamison, Kay Redfield. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide. Vintage, 2000.

Joiner, Thomas. Why People Die by Suicide. Harvard University Press, 2006.

Marcus, Eric. Why Suicide?: Answers to 200 of the Most Frequently Asked
    Questions about Suicide. Harper, 1996.


Used with permission from Dawson McAllister Live.Copyright 2007. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.