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The Psychology of Suicide Methods

A look at the various methods of suicide are discussed from a psychological standpoint. Topics such as risk factors, prevention, correlations, and medical terms are included.


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  Each year, more people die from acts of self-destruction than they do from various phenomena such as liver disease, war related casualties, and murder. With so many suicide related deaths each year, it is interesting to understand the nature of suicide, and the methods by which different people commit it. By familiarizing ourselves with risk factors, behaviors, and statistics that correlate to suicide, it is possible that we can prevent the suicide of someone we know some day. At the very least, we will be able to understand the thoughts of people – maybe even ourselves – during times of severe depression.

A suicide method is, just as it sounds, the specific act which one uses to take his or her own life. One could argue that suicide method does not matter, as long as it gets the job done, but the different correlations to each method can be of importance.

Self-mutilation, as a suicide method, is more of an umbrella term for “bleeding out”, or reducing the amount of blood inside one’s body to the extent of no longer being able to sustain life. The medical term for this is desanguination, or similarly, hypovolemia. The most common method of self-mutilation is by severing a major artery, such as cutting the wrists, which severs the radial artery and causes massive hemorrhage. Other common major arteries include the carotid artery in the neck, and the femoral artery in the legs.

There needs to be a differentiation between self-mutilation as a suicide method, and self-mutilation as a means of emotional release, or what is commonly known as “cutting”. Cutting is all too frequently found in teenage to college age females. The self-inflicted pain acts as a catalyst; it is something that the person can control in their life. This phenomenon is somewhat related to eating disorders, whereas the person’s food intake is his or her “control”.

In suicide, however, self-mutilation can be a one-time act performed to end one’s life, without any history of cutting oneself in the past. Often times, though, the decedent will have markings on the wrists or legs from previous suicide attempts, which are called “hesitation wounds”.

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