The science is unclear about the tipping point that leads some people to decide to end their lives. The act of suicide is neither one of courage nor cowardice, but it could be considered, for some, the ultimate maladaptive coping mechanism.
Suicidal ideation can be passive or active; the gesture intentional, accidental or impulsive. Passive thoughts are similar to it would be okay if I didn’t wake up in the morning, my family would be better off without me or I wish I could go to sleep and not wake up. An active ideation involves a plan, intent and sometimes premeditation. A young woman once took a knife into the bathroom, got in the tub (not wanting to make a mess for her mother to clean up) and proceeded to cut her wrist. However, the knife was dull, the skin tough and besides, it hurt. Maybe she’d try another time or method.
Malcolm Gladwell posited in Talking to Strangers, that Sylvia Plath’s death required the perfect convergence of events that resulted in putting her head in the gas oven that ultimately led to her demise. Had the place, season or circumstances unfolded differently, he argued, she would not have died that day.
Accidental acts, like overdoses, may happen when partying, celebrating or commiserating by mixing too many pharmaceuticals that then ends in death by combined drug intoxication (think Phillip Seymour Hoffman as opposed to Kurt Cobain who actively overdosed before shooting himself). My father used to ask, when my friends had plans that I wanted join, if everyone jumped off the Empire State Building (or Brooklyn Bridge; we were, after all, New Yorkers), would you follow them?
Because impulsivity may result in either an intentional or accidental death. For example, a businessman on holiday driving a rental car in Vegas, suddenly sped up to 100 mph, jerked the steering wheel sharply and plowed into a concrete wall. He survived, albeit with multiple fractures, to live another day. But impulsive acts also bring to mind the growing proliferation of teenage suicide pacts.
If you have given it any thought like I have over the years, there are other types to be considered; for instance, medically-assisted, Jihadi/Kamikaze bombers and suicide by cop (usually by those that don’t want to go to…