1. The common purpose of suicide
is to seek a solution.
Suicide is not a pointless or random
act. To people who think about ending
their own lives, suicide represents an
answer to an otherwise insoluble problem
or a way out of some unbearable dilemma.
It is a choice that is somehow
preferable to another set of dreaded
circumstances, emotional distress, or
disability, which the person fears more
Attraction to suicide as a potential
solution may be increased by a family
history of similar behavior. If someone
else whom the person admired or cared
for has committed suicide, then the
person is more likely to do so.
2. The common goal of suicide is
cessation of consciousness.
People who commit suicide seek the end
of the conscious experience, which to
them has become an endless stream of
distressing thoughts with which they are
preoccupied. Suicide offers oblivion.
3. The common stimulus (or
information input) in suicide is
intolerable psychological pain.
Excruciating negative emotions -
including shame, guilt, anger, fear, and
sadness - frequently serve as the
foundation for self-destructive
behavior. These emotions may arise from
any number of sources.
4. The common stressor in suicide
is frustrated psychological needs.
People with high standards and
expectations are especially vulnerable
to ideas of suicide when progress toward
these goals is suddenly frustrated.
People who attribute failure or
disappointment to their own shortcomings
may come to view themselves as
worthless, incompetent or unlovable.
Family turmoil is an especially
important source of frustration to
adolescents. Occupational and
interpersonal difficulties frequently
precipitate suicide among adults. For
example, rates of suicide increase
during periods of high unemployment
(Yang et al.,1992).
5. The common emotion in suicide
A pervasive sense of hopelessness,
defined in terms of pessimistic
expectations about the future, is even
more important than other forms of
negative emotion, such as anger and
depression, in predicting suicidal
behavior (Weishaar & Beck, 1992). The
suicidal person is convinced that
absolutely nothing can be done to
improve his or her situation; no one
else can help.
6. The common internal attitude in
suicide is ambivalence.
Most people who contemplate suicide,
including those who eventually kill
themselves, have ambivalent feelings
about this decision. They are sincere in
their desire to die, but they
simultaneously wish that they could find
another way out of their dilemma.
7. The common cognitive state in
suicide is constriction.
Suicidal thoughts and plans are
frequently associated with a rigid and
narrow pattern of cognitive activity
that is comparable to tunnel vision. The
suicidal person is temporarily unable or
unwilling to engage in effective
problem-solving behaviors and may see
his or her options in extreme, all or
nothing terms. As Shneidman points out,
slogans such as "death before dishonor"
may have a certain emotional appeal, but
they do not provide a sensible basis for
making decisions about how to lead your
8. The common action in suicide is
Suicide provides a definitive way to
escape from intolerable circumstances,
which include painful self-awareness
9. The common interpersonal act in
suicide is communication of intention.
One of the most harmful myths about
suicide is the notion that people who
really want to kill themselves don't
talk about it. Most people who commit
suicide have told other people about
their plans. Many have made previous
suicidal gestures. Schneidman estimates
that in at least 80 percent of completed
suicides, the people provide verbal or
behavioral clues that indicate clearly
their lethal intentions.
10. The common consistency in
suicide is with life-long coping
patterns. During crisis that
precipitate suicidal thoughts, people
generally employ the same response
patterns that they have used throughout
their lives. For example, people who
have refused to ask for help in the past
are likely to persist in that pattern,
increasing their sense of isolation.